Sunday 18 October 2015

Florence & The Machine, Alexandra Palace, September 24th 2015

Early Florence & the Machine performances reminded me of a Siouxie and the Banshees tribute act

This is meant in a very positive sense, in that I recall seeing the Banshees at their height and being transfixed by the way Siouxie dominated the stage. Florence Welch, perhaps alone, has got close to that in the intervening years and I was quite pleased when I asked my daughter who she'd like to see if we got the chance and she replied, without hesitation "Florence and The Machine".

So, when gigs at Alexandra Palace were announced a few days before her birthday, I bought Lauren and I a ticket each.

Ally Pally isn't the easiest place to get to (or back from!) for us, but we got there in plenty of time to get some food and drink (very good tacos and, for once, the drinks weren't a total rip off - Well done Ally Pally!).

The Staves acted as the support act. I had heard of them, but honestly they seemed very dreary to me and most of the audience seemed a bit perplexed by their very low key performance, although there were clearly a few fans amongst the predominantly female audience. Thinking that maybe they suffered the usual curse of poor sound balance for a support act, I checked them out on YouTube, but I guess I have to admit they just weren't Lauren and my thing and they seemed particularly odd a choice as a 'warm up' act.

Fortunately Florence and the Machine don't need a 'warm up', as the moment the lights went up and "What the Water Gave Me" started it was clear we were in for a slick, polished performance by Florence Welch and 'the Machine' (a full band these days).

Rattling quickly through a number of her biggest hits and upbeat tracks from the most recent album, I was left temporarily reeling and wondering what she was going to do for the rest of the show, but I needn't have worried as the whole show delivered from beginning to, short, encore without flagging for a moment.

These days Florence is a star performer, up there in terms of professionalism with the biggest acts, but sadly a little of that 'magic' has been lost along the way. I didn't feel the way I had at that Banshee's gig and the way I had when I first saw TV coverage of her at Glastonbury.

It would be churlish, though, to say that spoilt the gig in any way. It was top notch entertainment, delivered by a performer at the top of her game and clearly enjoying performing at the same level as the crowd were enjoying being there.

Alexandra Palace was a good choice for Florence and The Machine, too. Big enough to accommodate a big fan base, but retaining an intimacy that somewhere like a Stadium or the O2 just don't have. It felt like a big, small venue and we came away humming and happy... if only the venue wasn't in such an awkward place to get to!

If you get the chance to go see Florence, do, but if you went to see her in the early days, you saw something magical!


What the Water Gave Me
Ship to Wreck
Shake It Out
Bird Song Intro
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Third Eye
You've Got the Love (The Source cover)
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Cosmic Love
Long & Lost
Queen of Peace
Dog Days Are Over
What Kind of Man
Drumming Song

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