Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Queen Flo

All year long, I’ve kept coming back again and again to two albums. There’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” by Animal Collective, an album released at the start of the year which never stopped producing thrills and spills. And there’s “Lungs” from …

Tue, Dec 8, 2009, 10:52

   

All year long, I’ve kept coming back again and again to two albums. There’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” by Animal Collective, an album released at the start of the year which never stopped producing thrills and spills. And there’s “Lungs” from Florence & The Machine, which was the album which soundtracked the summer and beyond. It will probably require a coin-flip to seperate the two in my Top 10.

But in terms of a live show, well, there was no competition. While Aninal Collective have yet to convince me that they know (or want to know) their onions in a live setting, I’ve seen Florence Welch playing live three times this year and it’s just got better and better each time out.

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Last night, at a packed-to-the-rafters Olympia in Dublin, she didn’t so much as steal the show as skip merrily back to Wonderland with it. The focus in the post-match despatches may be on the high-jinks which often ensue when a singer comes into contact with the boxes on either side of this venue’s stage, but the real meat is in the actual show Welch and her band put on when her bare feet were on the ground.

I interviewed her earlier in the day and she made the point that releasing the album scared the hell out of her because it was such a finite experience. There was no further chance to redress and re-arrange songs, no further opportunities for a fidgeter and perfectionist like herself to keep messing with the formula.

You get a better understanding of what she means when you hear how she and the band are now dealing with those familiar songs from “Lungs”. Angles are massaged, layers are added, avenues are explored. There’s a punch to the material which was definitely not in place when she played here during the summer, but which Welch now feels is what those songs required. And she’s right.

What’s clearest too from last night’s show is that adaptability is now a key factor when it comes to staying the course. Of this year’s new pop intake, many are stuck on repeat, to quote one of them, and stuck in a stylistic ghetto. With Welch, there’s the sense and sensibility of change and the knowledge on her part that her songs can adapt to any situation. It has taken her three years to get to this point – Welch pointed out that it’s exactly three years today since she hooked up with her manager, Mairead Nash, and began to take things seriously – and this set has probably been reshaped many, many times during this period.

And that adaptability is going to come in handy in the years to come because the next bout of real work comes in staying the course and coming back with another set of “Lungs”. As she departed Dublin after a triumphant, exhilirating, emotive “You’ve Got The Love” (she’s blaming someone else in her camp for tidying up the grammer on the title of Candi Staton’s tune), the screams of the crowd roaring in her ears after one of the finest shows I’ve ever seen in this venue, you just know that she has the gumption, the desire and the talent to be back with more dark, fabulous tales wrapped in the kookest and strangest of melodic clobber. For now, pop’s queenpin can toast her bumper year with another tumbler of whiskey.

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