AKA: FLORENCE WELCH
Personal favourites Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders were signed on as the opening act for the span of the tour in some of the largest shows this band has ever played. Production quality in the stalls was fantastic so the boys were sounding good as they showed off choice cuts from the much-loved and well-toured ‘Playmates’ (2014) to a new market. They appeared with somewhat of a clipped wing, unfortunately replacing lead guitarist Kirin Callinan temporarily due to conflicting international touring commitments. This said, Jack and co. are still immediately effective and Florence herself was visible leading the applause and getting down to ‘Her Hands’ from side of stage.
The Machine kicked itself into gear under a beautiful metallic sheet that rippled and shimmered to great effect with each lighting change, at times flowing like water and then burning like fire. A charging ‘Ship To Wreck’ dropped early in the set brought instant momentum as Florence galloped from one side of the stage to the other. She worked tirelessly all night, throwing her body into an intensely physical display that highlights her formidable vocal power. Clearly favouring a direct connection between audience and artist, she leapt into the aisles and ran the length of the stalls to reach the hill barrier and stand amongst the general admission. It’s here she finishes ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’, and is left standing in the very centre of twelve thousand people that she has won entirely.
The setlist obviously leans towards the latest offering with plenty of choice cuts from hit ‘Lungs’ (2009) and sophomore ‘Ceremonials’ also visited to fan’s delight. Florence addresses us often; “Let’s put away our phones and remember tonight from here,” she coos, later climbing down into the crowd and playfully swatting away a man’s camera phone to embrace him and press her forehead against his. Connection and appreciation of the world around us, and of each other, is the order of the night. Before an the enormous ‘Dog Days Are Over’, she invites us to hug the people standing next to us. “Tell them that you love them!” she beams, “Touch their faces!” It’s a tender and joyful moment shared en masse before those drums and that clapping pattern take us all over completely.