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With the exception of those looking to be comfortably seated, it is fair to state that most live music fans prefer their gigs in smaller venues where you can get up close to the performing musicians. Hell, many even automatically pass on 40,000+ stadium events and raise an eyebrow when even their favourite artists are booked at an arena. Exceptions are few and far between, but I recall an article from a couple of years back, where the live show reviewer wished that a NYC show had been held at an arena, rather than a club. Why? The singer was Florence Welch and the room was quite simply not large enough to do her booming voice justice. At the time, I thought “Codswallop”… Having now seen the flame-haired songstress perform live at the 10,000+ capacity Rod Laver Arena, I can understand where the writer was coming from.

First up, however, was Blood Orange… the solo side-project of Devonte Hynes (better known as Lightspeed Champion). Undoubtedly a strange choice as support, he clearly got the gig due to his sporadic writing and producing partnership with Florence + The Machine. Armed with nothing but a laptop (complete with the annoying lit-up fruit beaming into the audience), a keyboard & his guitar, Hynes struggled to garner any interest from the crowd apart from the strange images portrayed on his projector. In all honesty though, it was a decent half-hour set, with the sultry melodies & Hynes’ flamboyant guitar-work often shining through. It was simply a matter of him showing his wares to what was undeniably an inappropriate audience, which clearly suggested the night’s headline act had well and truly crossed over into the mainstream.

With the aforementioned audience seemingly containing all ages and genders of music lovers, the crowd were steadily brought to rapture as the instruments of The Machine (including harp) were unveiled, and the 5 musicians & 2 backing vocalists walked out on to stage. Using the art-deco set to advantage, Florence’s silhouette was then illuminated, before walking out to a surprisingly raucous response. Dressed in a black, floor-length cape, Welch immediately captured everyone’s attention with a stunning rendition of ‘Ceremonials’ opener ‘Only If For a Night’. At this stage, this was anything but a pop concert, with Florence’s haunting – verging on supernatural – persona and commanding voice, holding everyone’s attention as if a script had to be followed. The ethereal vibe continued for much of the first half hour with ‘What the Water Gave Me’ providing a superb early-set highlight, before ‘Spectrum’ and ‘Heartlines’ made for a fantastic one-two punch.

As the night wore on, Florence became much more animated as she skipped around the stage, engaged in banter with the audience and flashed that radiant smile. ‘Lungs’ singles ‘Rabbit Heart’, ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘Cosmic Love’ were clearly fan favorites, as was encore duo ‘Never Let Me Go’ and ‘No Light, No Light’. One of the only let-downs of the night was the absence of (my song of 2009) ‘Drumming Song’ and (arguably her most successful release) ‘You’ve Got the Love’. Otherwise, this was what I would term the perfect pop concert for non-pop fans… Not only were their plenty of intangibles which brought some X-factor, but it was ultimately Florence’s talent which shone through, since her magnificent voice simply could not be ignored. This is one arena show not to be missed.





DaveyBoy
05.28.12
Just for the record, the "annoying lit-up fruit" I mentioned was NOT a blood orange!

Irving
05.28.12
WOW, the staff blog gets another 500 life points for being awesome. Also, awesome write-up. Also - that's a rather short setlist, no?

taylormemer
05.28.12
I always used to think "wouldn't it be awesome to have a setlist thing so you could look up what they played cause you were too busy moshing" Good shit!

Captain North
05.28.12
More staff should do concert reviews. Good stuff as ever Davey. Wish I'd gone now really.

fish.
05.28.12
13 songs isn't a particularly short setlist, especially considering she only has two albums

DaveyBoy
05.28.12
I pretty mush do a write-up every time I go to a gig (although I missed doing one for The Fooeys since it was the hectic year-end list time). They are much easier than album reviews imo & tend to flow much easier.

As for the setlist, my initial thought was that it was also short (I snuck a peak before the night), but for a 2 LP artist, it was fine. More importantly, many of her songs are 5 minutes plus anyway (EG: 5 Ceremonials tracks played here) & she stretched them even further for dramatic value. She was on stage for a good 90 minutes.

Of course, that does not explain no 'Drumming Song' & 'You've Got The Love'. Maybe the latter now needs Dizzee.

tommygun
05.29.12
Nice writeup Davey, but 'You've Got the Love' sucks. Or maybe I'm just sick of hearing it on every other TV ad. Either way I will never buy a Mitsubishi

DaveyBoy
05.29.12
Know what you mean potato. I don't want to make you even more pissed, but let's just say that there was a lot of chatter during his set. You know, the usual troubles of the world, such as GB data limits on a smartphone & where to get the next tattoo or piercing. On the positive side, it enabled us to get very close to the stage!

Thanks TG. I'm a serial flipper so hardly watch ads. Plus, the great thing about 'You've Got the Love' is that it's really short. She could have snuck it in easily mid-set.

fish.
05.29.12
Surprised no Drumming Song, that's her best song imo

DaveyBoy
05.29.12
Agreed. Like I said in the write-up, it was my 'Song of the Year'. That's how much I loved it. Plus, in addition to a drummer, one of the other musicians had a 2nd drum-set going on occasions, so the rhythms would have sounded great.

AtavanHalen
05.29.12
no drumming song
no kiss with a fist
no girl with one eye

pmdmgf

DaveyBoy
05.29.12
Yeah, definitely too strong a leaning toward 'Ceremonials'. I know she has been here a couple of times before, but with these being arena shows, I think the setlist had to take into account many people seeing her for the 1st time.

As much as I love it, I can maybe forgive no 'Kiss with a Fist', since it's so different to many of her songs & may have meant a lack of cohesion as such.

AtavanHalen
05.29.12
also fuck closing on the ballads instead of dog days

what a bitch

DaveyBoy
05.29.12
I wouldn't call 'No Light, No Light' a true ballad, especially when it comes to Flo's repertoire.

PayneTiger777
05.29.12
I saw her at mohegan sun on may 11th and she was spectacular. I thought Blood Orange was atrocious. The crowd hated it.

DaveyBoy
05.29.12
Who's split?

The thing is Payne, the crowd is sure to hate Blood Orange, since he is a bad match as support & Flo's audience won't like him.

klap
05.30.12
davey you can fix that first photo by going back into wordpress and changing the size to like 525 x 375 i think that works for the blog if i remember my coachella feature correctly

DaveyBoy
05.30.12
You don't know me & WordPress Rudy, Any other time I've gone to change 1 thing, it all falls down... It's like Jenga.

I didn't think it could be manually changed... Just a choice of 4... & I tried the top 2 & they both came out the same. Medium just didn't look right.

klap
05.30.12
yeah you have to click the photo and then click the advanced settings tab after you already put it in the box

DaveyBoy
05.30.12
Now Rudy, there is nothing advanced about my technological impotence.

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