Florence and The Machine – The Masonic – San Francisco, CA – April 9, 2015
Florence + The Machine had a showcase scheduled in San Francisco as a little warm up before heading down south to Indio for Coachella, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance as they featured five new songs from their highly anticipated upcoming album, How Big How Blue How Beautiful.
Florence Welch doesn’t know how to disappoint. Taking command of the stage from the start, she demands attention by fiercely grabbing at the mic stand and posing with authority and confidence to the beat generated by the Machine behind her. Opening with What The Water Gave Me, a song off the second album, Ceremonials – Welch carefully eased the crowd into the night’s festivity, but by the time she started to sing Lay me Down, THE NIGHT HAD BEGUN. The crowd was poised right along the band, singing every word and the anticipation had finally passed. Flo had arrived.
The buildup created from the opening tip let the audience know that this was going to be a night to remember. The first song they played off their new album was What Kind of Man, bringing to light the chaos that can ensue from a dysfunctional relationship in the form of song. Once the down beat of the kick drum echoed through the newly renovated Masonic, Welch took complete control and never looked back. Transitioning straight into Spectrum, the audience singing chants went from, “What kind of man loves like this?!” to a roar of “Say my name!” The passion and emotion expressed through every lyric was breathtaking to experience up close and personal.
There are subtle moments within performances that I live for. It’s when you catch the passion and visceral truth an artist conveys about a song through their facial expression. When you identify that the performer is transplanted from the stage into their own world in which the lyrics were derived from. I was able to experience these moments as Welch wouldn’t waste a lyric without putting all of her urge and fervor behind it.
Moving right along with a soothing rendition of the Calvin Harris’ Sweet Nothing, Florence Welch not only demonstrated her vocal talent but also versatility amongst genres. She then took the next couple of songs to submerge herself within the calm before the pending storm. The band played songs off all three albums: How Big How Blue from How Big How Blue How Beautiful; All This And Heaven Too from the critically acclaimed Ceremonials; and Drumming Song off of her debut album, Lungs. By the end of the time travel, the audience was fully immersed within the storm. Rightfully so, the hot new single Ship To Wreck was next!
The anticipation kept building, the energy was built back up song by song, and the crowd was ready for more action. It was time, time to blow the roof of this joint! Florence + The Machine brought out the heavy hitters. Starting with Shake It Out (Ceremonials), Florence captivated as she stood strong whilst fully emotionally connected to the poignant track, and boy did she take us for a ride. By the time Welch was belting the track that put the Machine on the map, Dog Days Are Over (Lungs), the energy was undeniably powerful.
St. Jude from the upcoming album was played next, and had us losing ourselves in a church state of mind. During Third Eye Flo handed one of her drumsticks to a girl next to me, placing the fan in tears of joy for the rest of the show as she grasped her gift with enough force to have a sore hand in the morning.
Florence + The Machine ended their set with the classic No Light from Ceremonials, leaving us in complete euphoria. Welch took advantage of every opportunity to engage the audience and command the stage as she was running across the stage singing, and I do mean RUNNING. At times she even jumped off the stage and sang right into the souls of her fans.
Welch successfully generated a memorable evening, and literally warmed up enough for Coachella.
Check out her latest single, here: