Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Florence + The Machine - Brixton Academy

I had been looking forward to this gig for months; ever since I received an email one day with a 'performer alert' for tickets going on sale the next morning, ever since I got up early and sat waiting for 9 o'clock to come so I could tick the 'buy' button, and ever since I managed to buy as many tickets as possible, not quite sure who was going to come with me.

A couple of months had gone by since then, and the night had finally come for a couple of friends and I to make the chilly journey to Brixton Academy, with my one spare ticket just in case I could find someone deserving to take it off my hands. Seeing the crowds of people, however, I realised the chances of finding a lone fan and making their dream of seeing Florence come true were quite slim, so I caved in and sold it to a smokey ticket tout for a tenner. Oh well.

So we wandered into the dramatic sloping room under the staircases of Brixton Academy, where, in between the grand castle and turreted effect either side of the stage one of the support acts 'Frankie and the Heartstrings' were playing animatedly. We had to sort out the essentials first though, and headed to the bar.

Unfortunately, by the time we'd got some beer, Frankie & co had finished their set, but we were just in time for the second act - who were a pleasant suprise for me - 'The Temper Trap'. I had been fairly obsessed with their single 'Sweet Disposition' all summer, so the surprise to see it live was a very welcome one. The Melbourne band played a set of about six songs, with their singles 'Fader' and 'Sweet Disposition' were definitely the highlights as a few of the other tracks seemed to get a little lost and the vocals were sometimes difficult to comprehend. I personally think it would have been worth leaving 'Sweet Disposition' until the end of the set, as it definitely energised the crowd and would have ended it on a high, rather than bringing the atmosphere back down with an unknown album track.

But, enough of the support, what I really went to see and want to talk about is Florence + the Machine; stage name for bright-haired young London girl Florence Welch. She emerged on to a stage that was littered with bird cages, had a background of birds and twigs that changed colour, in a shiny silver leotard (that was revealed later, much to the delight of the male audience members) with a full, fluffy skirt that looked to have been made out of lots of light pink feather boas. She looked sweet and ethereal, juxtaposing with the booming voice she let loose in the opening song 'My Boy Builds Coffins'. She continued on to perform most of the current album 'Lungs' as well as some lesser known tracks consisting of unreleased material and B-sides, which gave it all a bit of variety.

Florence was joined on stage by, as well as her normal band, a choir, string orchestra, and a harpist. They all gave a much richer sound and it was great to watch them play, and watch Flo skip around them. You could physically see where the money for your ticket had been spent; on these extra people, as well as a host of special effects. For 'Cosmic Love' the stage was transformed to reveal a moon and stars as a new backdrop, and when playing 'You've Got the Love' a mass of heart confetti erupted and poured over the audience (which, incidentally would have perhaps been better suited to the encore finale, as all that followed it seemed a bit surplus). It was spectacular. And this is all without mentioning much of the main woman herself. Florence is an innate performer, you can tell she loves every minute of it. She dresses for attention, she blasts your ears with her voice, she dramatically pauses and stares out into the crowd, she chats to us about how weird it is to see her name headlining at Brixton. On stage is where she is supposed to be, and she completely and deservedly owns it. Watching her is mesmorising, and as her songs take you on fantastical journeys you realise that you are watching someone who, at just 23, is really very, very good.

I left the venue, tripping over the odd plastic cup, on a real high. I thouroughly enjoyed every bit of the performance, Florence along would have put on a great show, but everything else mixed in made it even better.

Florence + the Machine - 5/5

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