“I went to the pier today – I felt like jumping off,” giggles Florence Welch. This is typical of Florence the person and the music that Florence And The Machine create. There’s a sense of childlike wonder and almost chaotic madness to what Florence does; it makes you think that if her powerful voice belted out the songs any harder, she might just be able to fly.
Amongst bunting, birdcages and fog blue brightness, electronic whispering gives way to a single slapped drum beat as Florence appears. Her robes blow in the breeze like a flame haired goddess, her arms lifted to the heavens. With a lighting design that she describes as “Gothic – but I like it,” there is a real sense of shrouded pagan atmosphere to the set, all shadowy and mysterious, which suits songs such as new single Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). In its live incarnation the song starts strangely subdued until halfway through a slowed down Italian house piano groove kicks in and the audiences hands rise up in the air like some long lost summer of love rave. Cosmic Love is breathtaking in its power, Girl With One Eye is bluesy and raw, and her closing cover of You’ve Got The Love is profoundly colossal. Suddenly it seems as if everything has fallen into place.
At Brighton Concorde, Florence soars sky high. This is an artist who has taken massive steps in terms of performance and musical weight in the last year or so. Florence is no longer just a kooky, raw, slightly hyperactive young woman who doesn’t quite know what to do with herself onstage. Now she is a fully fledged star, composed and assured, still full of energy, but managing to contain it until just the right moments in her set when the music explodes.
As she picks up a strobe light and raises it above her head Florence seems to become some kind of alternative version of the Statue of Liberty. Florence’s lamp may not yet be as well known as her Nightingale namesake, but it is beginning to shine even brighter than we hoped. Stunning.