Live review: Florence and the Machine

Bootlegs, News - Published: 6 December 2012

The multi award winning Florence Welch brings her own unique form of British indie pop to Le Zenith

Florence and the Machine live at Casino de Paris, 2012

Florence and the Machine released their last album ‘Ceremonials’ in October, 2011

The coiling harp scales and piano chords of Only If For A Night tantalisingly tease out Florence Welch’s entrance as a silhouette behind white panels, capturing the audience in one fell swoop. She looks like an elegant 20s movie star in black sequins and lace, her flamed curls in a halo plait.

As Welch, fringed by keyboardist and backing vocalist Isabella ‘Machine’ Summers and the rest of her backing band, tumbles effortlessly onwards into What The Water Gave Me, it soon becomes clear that this evening will be an altogether listening experience; with everything slowed right down and teased right out. The suspense of elongated intros and riffs make the tracks of Lungs and Ceremonials indefinitely more dramatic as they hang heavy with anticipation. You’ve Got The Love, a track well travelled on the radio airwaves, which probably poses the biggest risk for this very reason, is among the lineup this evening, but its these impulsive sounding tempo changes and a spine-chillingly theatrical performance that stop it being overshadowed by its infamy.

Florence and the Machine are ultimately both dark and uplifting, and Welch captures that enviable equilibrium of being both fragile and fierce. Even when she’s bellowing the powerful staccatos of Drumming, she still manages to be delicate and graceful as a ballet dancer. Her long white arms direct the audience like a conductor leads an orchestra and she twirls in rapture amidst bursts of that flawless voice, whipping in volume from thundering to sweetly hushed, powered by her impressive vocal range.

Sometimes she’ll strip sections back to basics: Cosmic Love soars with long, shimmering solo notes, fraught with feeling, and paired with simple piano chords, and then suddenly she’ll go all out with beautiful harmonisation from her backing singers, who echo with the resonance of a gospel choir in Leave My Body and Rabbit Heart. Then she’ll skip like a joyous schoolgirl from one side of the stage to the other, telling us of hedonistic nights in Paris. With this boundless energy and passion that transcends directly into her songs and the outright emotion of tracks like Heartlines, it’s simply impossible not to fall under the Florence Welch spell.

The irresistibly danceable Shake It Out firmly shows its stripes as a Florence and the Machine classic, and the audience roars its approval as Welch hammers on a drum kit with enthusiasm, but it’s Dog Days which plays the band out, and Welch disappears as she began into silhouette, leaving us blinking in the wake of another night in Paris.