Florence and the Machine


O2, Dublin *****

“It’s been the best four years of my life,” gushed a spent but still up-for-it Florence Welch at the end of a powerhouse performance. It was the final night of her Ceremonials tour, and on their website, Welch had asked her Irish fans to dress up for this end-of-tour gig. The venue was thronged with zombies, banshees, santas and fairies, while the band came on dressed as clowns.

There’s nothing low-key about a Florence and the Machine gig; it’s all about letting go and getting swept away by the primal force of the music. Thundering drums, soaring keyboards and sweeping harp glissandos provide a backdrop for Florence to let loose with her formidable lung power.

Tracks from their current album, Ceremonials, were made for this big room. Only If for a Night and What the Water Gave Me provides an opening double-whammy, but instead of settling down into a groove, the setlist leaps from one peak to the next, taking it all a little higher each time. Florence, tall and lithe in her clown jumpsuit, throws herself into the task, bounding around on bare feet, sprinkling pixie dust on the front row, and indulging in a little crowdsurfing. When she sings her version of The Source’s You Got The Love, the crowd responds with plenty of that stuff. Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up), Heartlines and Shake It Up aren’t songs – they’re affirmations, Florence delivering vocal salvation loud and clear.

The encore is pure abandon. Spectrum, better known to clubbers as Say My Name, takes the party up to 90, and Welch caps off a redemptive gig by officially declaring the end of the recession via Dog Days Are Over. Okay, she may not be able to magic away our financial woes, but the sheer positivity left in the air might just be the spur to start afresh.
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