Words || James Booth
“The show is ending and I started to crack…”
The lyrics to album opener June begin to echo through the crowd, with a beautiful sense of irony, the ethereal Florence Welch has emerged ready to fill Sydney’s domain with the first of many moving anthems. The sound of drums fill the air as the some builds into its crescendo and Florence, decked in a maroon, laced dress, begins to spin, thrash and dance her way around the stage. I have loved Florence’s music since my early teen; her albums have served as pillars for my emotional growth, soundtracks for dancing in the street, and anthems I belt out as I drive to many a destination. “You’re so high, you had to be an angel,” my friends and I shout the final lyrics to June, and four albums worth of excitement hits me all at once. I am beyond ready to experience my first Florence + the Machine concert.
The sheer emotional power of Welch’s music shines in her live show, she is surrounded by a live band playing the orchestral instruments that complement her soaring vocals. We sing about eating disorders and drug addictions on “Hunger”, we sing about abusive partners on “Cosmic Love”, we even get an insight into her teenage years of reckless drinking in “south London Forever”. In each moment, the enigmatic frontwoman controls the stage with ease and serves as the spiritual controller of the powerful experience that is the band’s live show. Every individual in the Domain’s crowd is enthralled by her infectious energy, we follow her every move as if we are members of a grandiose coven, and Welch our leader.
Perhaps what is most surprising about the live Florence + the Machine experience lies in how gentle and soft spoken Welch is, seeming to contrast the outbursts of emotion you find within her music. She uses her words to calmly inform us of the stories behind her songs, for example unpacking the middle section of “Patricia” as being about toxic masculinity. With tears in her eyes she thanks her Australian fans for being some of the first to support the music, and seems genuinely blown away that she has been able to fill Sydney’s Domain with people eager to experience her energy and words. It is amazing that after four albums, and musical success, Welch remains humbled by the support she is receiving from the crowd. You can feel the outpouring of love and just how grateful she is to be able to share her inner most demons and the glimmers of hope that have come from her reflections on life.
The High as Hope tour has shown that four albums into her career, Welch has no plans on slowing down and continues to share her light and growth with the world. We see her transforming those same sources of pain we explored n albums 1-3 begin to take the shape of something hopeful. She is still the same Florence, minus the drugs and alcohol, and instead using anecdotes about those years as opportunities to remind the crown to “stay hydrated”. In her encore, she dropped new song “Moderation” and you can sure as bet I’ve been listening to it incessantly to relive the feeling from the night.