The award-winning Florence and the Machine kicked off their UK Ceremonials tour in Exeter, to a sold-out Westpoint Arena on Tuesday 4th December.
The pressure was on, after Florence gave a show-stopping performance of Gimme Shelter with the Rolling Stones at the O2 arena in London; the Exeter crowd were expecting a stellar performance. And Florence with her machine did not disappoint.
In a way that only Florence can, she gracefully stepped in front of the Art Deco staging in a floor length burgundy and black dress, and then the moment came. The moment the crowd had been waiting for. The flame-haired south London songstress opened her mouth, and filled the arena with her emotionally charged and breath taking voice. Lungs is not only the name of the first album but is also the main reason why Florence attracts such a large fan base. Her lungs combined with her vocal chords create a distinctive sound which intertwines beautifully with the harps, strings and drums and left the whole arena mesmerised.
Each song she performed was filled with energy, with Florence gliding and jumping from one side of the stage to the other. Somehow she manages to jump around stage which such style and grace that it does not seem outlandish and the pirouette routine during Rabbit Heart emphasises that this woman knows how to please an audience.
Often referred to as the ‘nicest woman in pop’ this ‘niceness’ certainly came through with her interaction with the audience. Softly-spoken and sentences littered with ‘pleases’ and thank you’, it seems that she is very grateful for the fans support. At one point she even jumped down from the stage to pick up a poster a fan had made for her and showed it to the rest of the audience.
The band set list ensured that many of the crowd pleasers were sung to the enthusiastic Exeter audience, such as: You’ve got the Love, Spectrum, Drumming song and Cosmic Love. Overall the band ensured there was a good mix of songs between the first and second album. Moreover, the art deco style background often changed to reflect the song. For Cosmic Love, stars flooded the background screen and vibrant strobes of light for the final encore of Dog Days made the performance not only an aural delight but a visual one too.
Florence has been quoted as saying: ‘music at best is a kind of magic that lifts you up and takes you somewhere else.’ Her live shows certainly fulfil this criterion as she cleverly crafts the concept that we are participants in a ceremony weaving in the Ceremonials concept from her second album, while also transporting you to an ethereal world where she takes you on a musical journey.
If you ever get the chance to go and see Florence and the Machine, then you should grab the opportunity with both hands, as this is one band that is sure to remain a strong presence in the British music scene.
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