Gig Review... Florence & The Machine @ Alexandra Palace, London, 9th March 2012

It’s hard to believe that last time I saw Florence & The Machine live was in a tiny theatre in Hackney, along with some of her nearest and dearest for the launch show for second record Ceremonials. The ante has been upped considerably and one can but dream of Florence ever playing such intimate venues now that she’s upgraded to selling out arenas in a matter of seconds.

After what felt like the most stressful queuing experience in the world, the Summery vibes of Theme Park manage to provide a vibe relaxing enough for me to forget the whole horrid business. It’s clear the band is nervous, but when you’ve only been signed for a matter of months, it’s understandable that the 10, 000 strong crowd provide the boys with a daunting challenge. Theme Park’s blend of an Americana influenced take on pop music seems as if it would be perfect if heard during the ever nearing festival season, but this crowd just won’t give them anything back... apart from the woman a few rows back who appears to be having the time of her life. Theme Park’s time will come soon enough, and I for one can’t wait.

The Horrors shred their way through a great live set, made up heavily of their NME Award winning album; Skying. Bassist Rhys Webb weaves himself in all manner of shapes, fitting in with the psychedelic and baggy nature of the tracks. The majority of the crowd seem entranced by the haze of tracks like I Can See Through You, previous concerns of The Horrors falling a little flat in a live setting remain unfounded by the time set closer; and recent Florence collaboration track at the NME Awards, Still Life transcends its way through the speakers.

The atmosphere in the crowd reaches almost Beatle-mania level hysteria as a curtain is dropped and a backdrop revealed that could only belong to one Florence & The Machine. Despite the stage set up being somewhat different to previous tours, there’s still an intimate feel to tonight’s gig despite the obvious leap in development.

The chiming bells of Only If For A Night are met by raucous cheers and screams as Florence appears in a regal gold and black cape. Hitting every note with an effortless power, there is absolutely no denying that Florence’s voice is still the focus. The ethereal sounds of Tom Monger’s harp playing take personal favourite Cosmic Love to a new level of euphoric ecstasy. Loyal and new fans welcome the runaway piano of Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up); delivered by Welch’s partner in crime Isabella ‘Machine’ Summers, would brighten up the day of any person and tonight Welch is on the top of her game as she instructs the men in the crowd to lift the woman they love onto their shoulders all the while pirouetting around the stage like a young child on Christmas Eve.

Majestic track Spectrum sees the main set draw to a close with a chorus and crescendo that is testament to Welch’s ability as both a lyricist and a songwriter. The incredibly sombre Never Let Me Go is saved until the final song in the encore, bringing a tear to the eyes of many for its tragic love story nature. The size, the crowd’s and the intensity have all been taken up a gear for Florence’s first arena tour, but it all holds the same charm as that tiny Hackney gig on that cold October night.

Florence & The Machine played:
Only If For A Night
What The Water Gave Me
Cosmic Love
Between Two Lungs
Shake It Out
Dog Days Are Over
Breaking Down
Lover To Lover (Acoustic)
Heartlines (Acoustic)
Leave My Body
All This & Heaven Too
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
No Light No Light

You've Got The Love
Never Let Me Go

Written by - Rachael Scarsbrook