“Dance yourselves to Death!” Florence and the Machine concert review

"Vancouver, how have you been?!" -Florence Welsh

There was a party at Rogers Arena Tuesday night. It came in the form of Florence And The Machine.

The house was pretty full, and of those that were there, about 90% spent the entire show on their feet. It was my first time at a Florence and the Machine concert. I’d unfortunately missed the previous concerts for various reasons. There were expectations on my end, seeing as they’re one of my favourite bands. Luckily, I was not disappointed. 

One of the reasons it was so enjoyable was the energy leading lady, Florence Welsh, brought to every second. She constantly moved back and forth. She’s in need of an ego ramp. There was even a sense of danger (kinda joking) with her going back and forth on the stage. The centre of the stage was raised about a foot, foot and half from the rest of the stage. But Welsh, effortlessly bounded back and forth, jumping up and off with complete ease as if nothing was there. She also spun and jumped and ran to the last millimetres of the edge of the stage.

The first song out the gate was “Heaven is Here” off the new record Dance Fever. Though I mentioned that the crowd was on their feet the whole show, I’d say it took a song or two to really get the energy up, to where it stayed for the rest of the show. Save for a few fan favourites. It was third song of the night that got things going. It was How Big, How Beautiful’s “Ship To Wreck.” The crowd jumping and singing along to every word. The dance party had officially begun. 

The biggest song of the night might just have been the old staple “Dog Days Are Over.” It’s the first song of the night that really got the guys next to me into the show. All the phones came out, undoubtably unwatchable from the bouncing of those wielding them. Mid song, as everyone sang along Welsh put her finger to mouth, the crowd immediately complied and shh’d. She then began to speak to her fans…or disciples.

"What the fuck is this? Is it a cult?"

I’d said to someone about a month ago after watching some recent live shows from the band, that I thought Florence Welsh could start a cult. I was validated in this thought, when she posited it might seem like it. She was talking to those who were first timers, and or chaperones. After she finished conversing to the crowd, she and the band finished “Dog Days Are Over” to the roar of the crowd. 

Welsh would kneel down at the edge of the stage, reaching out to the crowd. The outstretched hands of hers, and those reaching back, not quite able to meet. Fortunately for those in the front, squeezed against the barrier they would get their wish, before long. When “Girls Against God” ended, Welsh made her way to the side of the stage were there was stairs down to the front. She ran down the barrier touching those that were there. Stopping in the centre she launched into “Dream Girl Evil.” Standing up on the ledge of the barrier, then eventually on top of it. She was certainly not afraid to get up close and personal with her fans. She sang to those right in front of her, almost intimately, but still bringing those way in the back into the song. After the song she ran over the side of the crowd she’d not yet interacted with. She stopped mid-stride to hug a fan weeping with joy. 

For the amount that Welsh runs, jumps and spins around, there wasn’t very many times where you heard it in her voice. And she sings everything. It isn’t like some acts where they dance and move, only singing the words they seemingly want to, while letting the backup singers or the backing track handle the rest. It’s impressive. Her voice alone is impressive, but adding cardio gives it a whole new layer. 

After another few songs Welsh stopped again to address the crowd.  

"I'm so happy you made it here too."

“A strange transition from very scary to very shy.” Welsh exclaimed. Her booming asserting vocals from her songs transitioning to her quiet unsure speaking voice. She explained how the band almost didn’t make it due to numerous cancelled flights. The most impressive, and endearing moment, was that she’d met a fan that was going to the show, who was on the same cancelled flight as her. That fan, was front row centre, Welsh having recognized them in the crowd. Elated that they were able to make the show. Welsh having worried about if the fan would make or not.

The next song was the one that brought out the lights and lighters. It was “Morning Elvis.” My personal favourite song off the last album, possibly my favourite full stop, from the band. Which can sometimes be nerve-wracking. but they nailed it. 

A few songs later, Welsh was again off the stage. This time she ran out into the crowd and to the back where the sound board was. The crowd shifting to the back. She got up on what looked like a road case, as she was surrounded. She sang, reaching out to those around her. Before long she was off like a shot, sprinting up the other side of the arena back to the stage. 

"Dance yourselves to death!"

It was another oldie but a goodie that brought the crowd to eleven, off of Lungs, it was “Kiss With a Fist.” Welsh letting the crowd take that line in the song, as they jumped up a down, dancing their heart out. Two songs later it was the (not actually) final of the night, “My Love.” At one point in the song Welsh told the crowd to get down, as low as they could. Without hesitation the crowd stopped dancing and crouched or kneeled. They waited for the release. The tension building, until finally it was release. The masses jumping up in unison to the beat of the song. Further confirming that Welsh could, in fact start a cult. Everyone there was drinking the Kool-Aid.

The song ended and the band left the stage. The crowd on their feet clapping, hollering, and whistling. Waiting for the inevitable. 

It wasn’t long before the band was back. They started with a song Welsh had downright refused to play for a decade. But it was the love from the fans that brought it back to her with new meaning. It was the only song of the night she stayed still. Standing at the mic stand. The song was “Never Let Me Go.” 

"...Just A few human sacrifices."

After “Shake it Out.” it was now the last song of the night. The only thing that was needed was some sacrifices. Standing, and sitting on their companions shoulders, Welsh got her sacrifices. Now it was time to “Raise It Up.”

Already on their feet from the show and applause the crowd made their way home. 

It was a 2 hour show, but certainly felt shorter. I guess time does fly when you’re having fun. Not only was the presentation great, but so was the sound. No one was being drowned out, or clipped. When I got home I realized my ears weren’t ringing, and I could hear normally. So I’m giving a two big thumbs up to the sound guys on this. 

"We love you Vancouver!"

We love you too, Florence!

Were you there? What did you think?

One last thing. I’m very fortunate that I can attend shows for free, doing what I do. That wasn’t the case with this show. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I bought a ticket of my own, I’d either covered it or gotten it as a gift. I honestly can’t tell you how long it’s been. I bring this up because I was aghast at the service fees. It almost made me not want to go. My ticket was $80.50 with $26.60 in fees on top of that. I got the ticket at the arena so I saved the EXTRA $6.00 fee for buying online. The show itself was worth the price of admission (all of it). But damn. I was, and still am a little speechless. Which is something I probably shouldn’t say, when Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation is responsible for if I get approved to cover shows or not. Just had to say my piece. 

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