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Florence And The Machine
Celina Murphy, 08 Mar 2012
It is consumingly odd to see a band as good as The Horrors play to a perfectly still crowd, even odder when the brain-rattling throwback post-punk is delivered with such sensational confidence. The quintet’s support set is a hit-filled one, ‘Still Life’, ‘Mirror’s Image’, ‘Sea Within A Sea’, and yet not a peep; nothing more than a dreary wave of polite claps for the band who will probably, based on this show, give the performance of the festival at this year’s Electric Picnic. Head growler Faris Badwan does his best to engage the crowd, but all the blistering guitarplay and designer feedback in the world can’t kick this lot into movement. They’re saving their energy for Florence.
The 25-year-old’s name is nowhere to be found on the stage tonight, which makes sense, really, as I’m guessing that all these packs of violently screaming females don’t need to be told what’s coming next. Instead, Welsh plumbs for six colossal balls of light, two staircases and one looming art deco backdrop. She’s always had props of course, but all those bird cages and granny curtains and plastic vines combined won’t have cost a fraction of the price of this single piece of luminous stagecraft.
Having teased us with her impossibly long silhouette, she appears from behind the screen, looking rather like a member of ancient Celtic royalty. It’d be easy for an outfit like this - a ginormous black chiffon cape with beaded epaulettes cloaking a velvet armored bodysuit - to steal the show, but the choral ripples of ‘If Only For The Night’ are far too thundering to resist. Backed by a full band and an emphatic trio of singers, the product of Florence’s infamous lungs sounds better than ever.
Songs this epic need two things to work; a suitably epic venue (Flo’s oversized pop was too much for the Olympia, the O2 is a much better fit) and a singer who is capable of immersing herself in the theatrics of the show, something that Mistress Welch is absolutely brilliant at. Shooting possessed looks to the ceiling, reaching for an invisible beam of light and throwing her cape wide to reveal a dramatic Celtic pattern, she’s poised and Queenlike. By the time we get to ‘Strangeness And Charm’, a song she chooses to punctuate with canine yelps, she’s quite the opposite, wildly twirling around like a motorised ballerina, the demon of her own music box. It is my educated guess that this is what every young woman looks like as they gallop around their bedroom to their favourite dance track, and it may just be why young women adore her so much.