Everyone’s favorite garden nymph graced the presence of the Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 21 in downtown Los Angeles. Within this building amongst an urban jungle, Florence + the Machine closed out their intimate six-date tour. When frontwoman Florence Welch entered the stage, it was as if she were just another extension of the set. Her barely pink dress blended into the wooden floors and floral-dotted shrubbery, but her glowing red hair and unmistakable vocals made her hard to miss.
These select shows came just ahead of the release of High as Hope, out June 29. At an album listening event just before the show, Welch took a moment to talk about the new LP: “I guess this record feels like the most distilled version of what I do.” She also noted a lot of learning and unlearning with this record.
The set began with a series of old songs: “Between Two Lungs,” “Queen of Peace” and “Only If for a Night.” Partway through “Queen of Peace,” Welch ignited the crowd. She gave her approval to join in on her spinning and striding across the stage: “I feel like you want to stand up don’t you?” Those front and center shot up to dance and a surrounding wave of people followed.
Welch followed with already released songs from High as Hope. “This next song, I thought this would be a secret I kept… I was scared,” she explained, almost a whisper compared to her singing. However, she instructed “Hunger” to be a song to dance to. After “Sky Full of Song,” the first release from the new album, came the night’s most righteous experience. Nearly halfway through the set, Welch sang “Dog Days are Over,” a song arguably perfect to close with. Instead, she invigorated an approximately 2,000-person crowd with love and optimism for the next hour– possibly for longer. Welch made a call-to-action, for the moment “to live nowhere else,” and instructed for everyone to put away their phones, put up both hands and to hug their neighbors, even those they didn’t know. It was a jovial explosion.
After 2015’s “Mother,” the audience was treated to a new song: “It’s about a woman very close to my heart…nobody tell her!” Welch expressed fears the said woman might not like the song, though the middle part of it was about someone else. “Patricia” finished with a single repeating line: “It’s such a wonderful thing to love.” Welch then went in the opposite direction of her catalog with Lungs’ “Falling.” And despite nearly ten years passing since the song’s release, Welch noted everything is pretty much the same, except “the drunkness and glitter is less.”
Before an end that consisted of three How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful favorites, the eight-piece band and English songstress performed one more new song: “100 Years.” The song was written two years ago in London. She said it seemed too earnest at the time, but decided to “override her Britishness,” as it “seemed like a time to be earnest.” To match the heavy beats accompanied by “huhs!” Welch punched the air, in choreographed fashion, over and over, eventually finishing in a pose signaling strength.
Florence + the Machine, after a momentary exit, came back for the honest and optimistic “Shake It Out.” “You ready to be a choir,” Welch asked. With conductor’s fingers, she finished out: “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.” After an evening of watching Welch skip around the stage and, at one point, climb through the audience, the flowers, hugs and kisses waiting at the end were no surprise. Any person that can effortlessly sing about the darkness before the dawn in front of thousands, but make it feel magical and personal, deserves endless affection.
- Between Two Lungs
- Queen of Peace
- Only If for a Night
- Sky Full of Song
- Dog Days are Over
- 100 Years
- Ship to Wreck
- What Kind of Man
- Shake It Out