Following her outrageously and gloriously overly exuberant performance at the Brits, the swiping of 2 NME awards and much dancing at the after party with Rizzle Kicks just a few weeks ago... Florence Welch took on Alexandra Palace on Thursday the 8th March 2012.
The Horrors, as second in line for support set up in a very casual state while Faris got his fringe flinging on. They were tight, they were cool and their new stuff is brilliant. Despite the Southend group hardly pumping me up for Florence and the Machine, it was music at a good calibre of musicianship and if at the end of the day, I hadnt got that from the Horrors, with their four albums, countless festival performances and being the teacher's pet of NME, I would have been disappointed. And disappointed I was not.
After a diva-ishly long wait for Flo.....she came out from behind her 1920s deco-adorned stage in full cape, sparkly shoulder pads and pinned up deep red hair. YES, gold and sparkles is still in season apparently (check out the fcuk website if you dont believe me). Backed by a ten piece choir and a string section TO DIE FOR (not to mention her Mcfitty lead guitarist) and of course, the harp. All in all, it was a very impressive presence on stage. Opening with Only If For A Night Florence set off with her stationary new style although there was some twirling and pointing with the arms to get some movement into that cape.
She continued through various tracks off the new record and then launched into some of her old stuff including Cosmic Love with an outstanding break-down in the middle where she completely owned the entire room. (I'm going to also state here, quite outrageously, that I believe Welch to be one of the strongest vocalists certainly in the UK and potentially in the western world right now.)
Once she'd proved her worth of owning the palace she launched into a bombardment of uplifting tunes and ever so gradually returned to her immature character which encompassed Lungs. Beginning with current single Shake It Out and moving a bit more around the stage (the cape was long gone by now to reveal a black velvet catsuit) the next song progressed to Dog Days Are Over where suddenly she returned to her old self, flailing arms around, skipping and general fiasco.
Alternative adaptions included Heartlines where a 12 string guitar was introduced to create a more folky approach and initially softer drums which gave all the more impact when they did play in full. Leave My Body was dowsed by the choir and given a more soulful vibe. There was a brief interlude as the strings did their thing over a few chords to introduce You Got The Love and naturally, the room was filled with the punter's voices fused with the intermediately overwhelmed and giggling, but fantastic Florence's.
As the first of many, many gigs I hope and have no doubt that the rest of the tour is to the same standard. Florence appeared affectionate to Alexandra Palace as a venue, especially as her family was there (apparently a rarity). But to be honest, I think the girl's got it all under control and will nail the rest of the tour as it sets off across the country and Europe this spring before a handful of festivals, come summer.