Florence and the Machine - Palladium Ballroom - 5/1/12

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Mike Brooks. See the slideshow here.
Florence Welch
Florence and the Machine
Palladium Ballroom
Tuesday, May 1

As I scrolled backwards through my notes from last night's show, I found something I had jotted down a few days earlier, I think from an episode of Parks and Recreation: "Don't half ass two things. Whole ass one thing."

I took that as my spirit's path at the sold out Florence & the Machine show at Palladium. As British frontwoman Florence Welch floated onstage in a black sequined cloak/choir robe, part Stevie Nicks and part Athena, there was an immediate attention to detail and flow: the black, draped chiffon of her dress, the stained glass panels and gilded harps behind her, the mood lighting. This was to be an event.

I imagine Welch might be a Bowie fan, and is sort of taking performance back to that Ziggy Stardust age of stagecraft and theatrics, not afraid to bring drama and operatic intensity to a rock and roll setting. It's just that now, they're power ballads for a more plugged in generation of teens and young adults.

I admit, I was never really a fan of the group. Maybe it was because I was constantly hearing their anthemic strains from shows like Gossip Girl or the soundtrack to the Twilight franchise. Last year's Ceremonials, however slick, had its charms. So did Welch, as when she asked the men to prop the ladies up on their shoulders briefly, right before "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," so she could see them and tell them they're beautiful. It may sound sappy, but at a certain age, watching an idol, that validation is electric.

Welch, as the hunter, stalked the stage, swinging her cloak. She held notes and climbed octaves that seemed to take all the air out of the room. The random scream at the end of "Leave My Body" was terrifying and primal. She knows how to do the narrowed-eye come hither, practiced in the art of restraint.

Despite an awful drum sound bludgeoning most of the 90-minute set, the last half, including "Heartlines," "Shake It Out" and "Dog Days Are Over," built a momentum that's rare in the live-music arena these days. A two-song encore saw them out, but that quote in my notebook was a bit of foreshadowing.

Overheard in the bathroom: "I imagine she smells like expensive shampoo and clove cigarettes."

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Must disagree in the strongest possible terms regarding your assessment of the drums. The Machine's often multiple drum sound (Florence herself joined on a third drum kit during the encore) creates an incessant, driving, primal earthiness that serves as a counterbalance to the singer's high-flying vocal voyages. This is not dream pop, this is not a chanteuse, this is rock-n-roll. This is screwin' music.


Florence Welch ain't my bag, but she is revered internationally. 

Why does a simple, single operatic robe have to evoke  Bowie?   This "101" connection diminishes them both, especially the one who thematically, substantively, and ornately changed music and culture permanently, and for the better.

Florence is great, but:  no thematic Character, story, sets, concept album(s),  costume changes, challenging Yamamoto fashion installations.    But, like most humans, she's probably a fan of Bowie.

To wit, your distillation of Welch as "imagin(ing) she is a Bowie fan - - " this English Goth-ess Chanteuse, is both dismissive and an insulting reduction to both.

It's like some twat in the Comments section saying that Jack White looks like a Johnny Depp character. It lacks....everything.


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Audra Schroeder
Audra Schroeder

Not sure how imagining she's a Bowie fan is dismissive or insulting, since that comment had nothing to do with her garment. I was trying to explain how she held a sold-out crowd in her gaze for 90 minutes. And, for the record, I actually find the word chanteuse dismissive to women, which is why I don't use it.

Tyler L
Tyler L

I think it's a bit unfair to try to distill this entire review into one point, then launch yours off of it. Nowhere was Florence's actual robe compared to "evoking Bowie". The whole show, the theatrics, the ability to rock an arena, yes. But not merely the robe. Does it fall short of Bowie, I'm sure it does (I wasn't there), but who does live up to Bowie's theatrics? That's why we use metaphors.

If I say that August in Texas is as hot as Satan's anus...it's not REALLY as hot as Satan's anus. But it's "kinda" like it. Just as Florence rides a slightly androgynous, Brit, glam, rock-pop. A whole cornucopia of shit (not a real cornucopia like the Pilgrims and whatnot silly!) that is kinda, sorta "like" Bowie.

Lastly, Jack White is a self-important, egomaniac with a laughable facade of forced-humility. He's like a silly-ass Johnny Depp character.

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