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Review: Florence + The Machine (Monday 28th)

Florence + The Machine close the Apple Music Festival in a spectacular manner.

Review: Florence + The Machine (Monday 28th)

Florence + The Machine; Apple Music Festival, London 2015

James Gilmore

W!ZARD News Author

The Apple Music Festival is a celebration of the finest musical talent Apple’s talent bookers can get their hands on - for the love of music. Closing with Florence + The Machine may have been their strongest move.

Having just completed a weeks residency at the 10,000+ capacity of Alexandra Palace, you would have expected Florence Welch and her band of rockers to have been exhausted – in all honesty, many were expecting a, somewhat, lacklustre performance. After all, it can’t be easy to play in front of 50,000 people in a week.

We were lucky enough to witness Florence’s opening night at Alexandra Palace the Monday prior to her Apple Music Festival closing act – and there were few differences between the two sets. Including her energy.

Walking out from behind the draped black curtain which separates the backstage area from public view, Florence could be mistaken as a messianic-type figure. As the music for What the Water Gave Me kicks in, she makes her way to the microphone with very little eye contact with the audience. Posing in front of her band, in a classic figure reminiscent to the one on her latest album cover (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) her energy slowly builds up until the chorus kicks in, “Lay me down, Let the only sound, Be the overflow…” We now have full Florence.

Performing a compilation of ‘Greatest Hits’ from her past three releases, it’s an upbeat set featuring Ship to Wreck off of How Big, Shake It Out off Ceremonials and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) from Lungs.

Knowing how to drum up the audience the moment the energy begins to fade – Florence regularly screams, ‘CAMDENNN!’ at the top of her lungs (differentiating herself from the rest of the week’s line-up, who opted for screaming ‘Apple Music’ instead) and, on more than one occasion, enters the audience – resulting in a mass pilgrimage to whichever side of the stage she resides on.

What is genuinely admirable about Florence’s performance is how she never ignores a part of the audience – even if she is standing in the crowd to the left of the stage, she’s always waving and looking up to make sure everybody else feels involved as well. It’s a fully inclusive performance, making it easy to understand everyone’s obsession with her.

The God-like façade breaks before Cosmic Love when Florence points out her Dad (Nick Welch) in the audience, cueing the audience to sing Happy Birthday to him. She tells us the story of how he drove the band around Europe whilst they were supporting MGMT and everybody gives Father Welch and much-deserved round of applause. Between Cosmic Love and Long & Lost (a new ballad from How Big), she returns to the right of the stage, microphone-less and starts having a conversation with the front row audience. It’s a personable experience which makes her more relatable and ‘real’ than ever before.

Ending off her main set with Dog Days Are Over, she encourages the audience to ‘take off something that you don’t need and swing it in the air’, resulting in a flock of cardigans and jumpers either swinging in the sky or being thrown toward Florence. She catches the jumpers and swings them for her fans – before running off the stage as the song concludes.

Ending with a short encore of What Kind of Man and Drumming Song, Florence + The Machine have managed to out-perform every act which came before them – a task many thought would be impossible.

Whether it’s reading a fan’s custom-designed T-Shirt which was flung toward the stage in between tracks or simply singing like a Queen, perhaps Florence’s biggest achievement during her Apple Music Festival was breaking the, at times, strange image of her being messianic, almost Jesus like – an image backed up by her album cover and bright lighting. She proved herself to be real, personable and, more than everything, lovable.

Well done Florence + The Machine, you won the Apple Music Festival.

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