Live: FLORENCE + THE MACHINE // Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, MN
One feels Florence + the Machine in the chest. The music invites both euphoria and discomfort.
Blinding lights marked the start of the show. As a cluster of chandeliers descended onto the stage, Florence + the Machine appeared from the fog. Lead singer Florence Welch’s animalistic cries rang out in the large arena, opening with a hypnotic rendition of Heaven Is Here. She carried on straight through to King, performing the album-favorite with such self-assuredness and confidence. Eliciting wild cheers from the crowd, each repeated mantra “I am no mother, I am no bride, I am king,” further established her tone for the evening.
My personal favorite from Dance Fever, Free, made an appearance early in the setlist. Introducing the song, Welch said, “this one is for my anxious flowers,” with a smile. In this moment, I was struck by a deep feeling of joy bubbling up inside, awaiting Welch’s cue to burst free. The Dance Fever tour invites one to surrender to the music. Flitting about the stage, commanding attention, constantly on the balls of her feet, Welch exudes pure energy, light and freedom. Fully expecting her to take flight, it’s not a matter of if, but when. More importantly, she invites the crowd to do the same. At this point, four songs in, I am under her spell. She pauses, breathless and joyful, “thank you so much for having us this evening.”
The middle of the set flies by in what seems like moments. During a transitional moment, sheer, black screens descend from the rafters as Welch approaches an altar of chandeliers. Choreomania overtakes the crowd as Welch makes a manic trip around the venue. She ends up back on stage, twirling in a fit before throwing herself to the floor. In a matter of minutes she has reengaged the entire arena, breathing new life into the set’s second act. Welch once again addresses the audience, commanding: “dance yourselves to death.” How fitting for the Dance Fever tour.
With the end in sight, Welch steps into a delicate rendition of Cosmic Love. The room hangs on every word and impressively, there is complete silence in the arena as she utters her final words.
Florence + the Machine fans offer love and support in return: before Never Let Me Go Welch details her previous feelings of stress in performing the song, how it details a time in her life when she was drunk, sad and under pressure. Those feelings have now changed. “Thank you for bringing this song back to me.”
Dance Fever is a triumph, and Welch is a once-in-a-lifetime artist. How lucky are we to have the opportunity to witness her artistry. Florence Welch was made to share this gift with the world, and I couldn’t imagine a world where she did not. One wants to surrender to her voice, and her fans do so willingly and completely, no questions asked.
Photo credit: Lillie Eiger