Florence + the Machine enchants fans with an ethereal night of artful rock at the Hollywood Bowl – Orange County Register
Singer Florence Welch paused midway through “Dog Days Are Over,” one of Florence + the Machine’s earliest hits, to greet the roughly 17,000 fans who packed the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night for the first of two sold-out shows in Hollywood Los Angeles this weekend filled .
She grinned happily as she expressed her appreciation for her “second, third or 50th shows” and was in awe of the first-timers who had braved the churning dance ditch in front of the stage.
“And if you kind of got dragged along by someone tonight and you’re wondering what the (force) that is?” she added. “Is it early Halloween? Is it a British pagan dance ritual?
“All I can say is that it really is that much easier once you put your mind to it.”
The crowd roared, and with an admonition, it was time to put down the phones and “be here now with those you love”. Welch and the band fell back into the song’s final bars as the fans, impressively without phones, gave in as she asked and danced wildly to its end.
The Hollywood Bowl has become something of a second home for Florence + the Machine over the past decade. This weekend marks the fourth time the British indie art rock band has played there on tour for the last four consecutive nights of five studio albums.
Which makes sense given the feelings Welch and the band evoke at the performance. She’s a heavenly performer who looks a bit like a Pre-Raphaelite princess or maybe the auburn, rebellious younger sister of Glinda the Good Witch.
And while the songs often touch on themes of love and heartbreak, they also feel rooted in nature, set in idyllic landscapes or, in the case of 2015’s “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” almost entirely in and around the sea.
Welch introduced the new album Dance Fever earlier this year as “a fairy tale in 14 songs” and when the show opened with four new songs in the first five, that sentiment came through clearly, even when the musical accompaniment changed from Neo -Folk to baroque pop to furious rock’n’roll.
Welch, clad in a flowing lavender gown with bell-shaped sleeves and glittery embellishments, hopped and danced barefoot across a stage that featured a large open platform with the band on either side, a dozen crystalline chandeliers overhead, and a white wall of mismatched candelabra on the back side.
The set featured 23 songs over an hour and 50 minutes, including 12 from Dance Fever, but although the record didn’t come out until May, many of its tracks were greeted by fans as old favourites.
“King,” which came after the short introductory song “Heaven Is Her,” was her first single, a song Welch wrote about her feeling torn between a life in the arts and a family. As Welch sang his hook, “I’m not a mother. i am not a bride I am king” – she held up her hand and dozens of fans in the pit raised actual fake swords in tribute.
2015’s single “Ship To Wreck” followed, its even greater familiarity and faster pace rousing fans from their seats to the dance floor, but with the exception of “Dog Days Are Over” and “What Kind Of Man” the first half of the show was consisted almost entirely of new material and was heard live for the first time by most viewers. (The swordsmen maybe not. They could be the Florence + the Machine equivalent of Deadheads – Flo-Heads? Machine-Heads?)
Welch said influences on the new songs ranged from Iggy Pop to Emmylou Harris, although her British art rock instincts transformed those inspirations into something entirely her own.
But “Prayer Factory” ended on a cacophonous rock ‘n’ roll sound as Welch returned from one of several walks into the crowd or along the low wall separating the pool circle pit from the garden boxes. And “Morning Elvis” had a country-folk kind of sound and lyrics that took the singer from Memphis to New Orleans and beyond.
“I wrote it like a prayer,” Welch said of the lovely, gentle “Morning Elvis,” a composition amid the pandemic when she feared live music might never return. “And I thought if we could sing it together one day, that might mean we got through this.”
“Choreomania,” a song alluding to a medieval phenomenon when people supposedly felt uncontrollable urges to dance wildly and convulsively, saw them running from the stage up the amphitheater to a distant stage above the terraced boxes. (Like, really ran: As she sped past to return to the stage, auburn locks flying, it was startling how quickly the barefoot singer moved.)
The final few songs of the main set provided two very popular songs from 2008’s debut album, Lungs. “Kiss With A Fist” rolled to a sort of ’50s rockabilly beat and garage rock melody.
“Cosmic Love” was one of the most beautiful songs of the night, the number for which Welch urged the crowd to get their phones out again and light up the night as she sang her beautiful tunes and twirled the stage to the end.
The three-song encore began with “Never Let Me Go,” a track off 2011’s “Ceremonials,” which Welch said she wasn’t sure she’d ever performed in the United States before this tour have.
“I said I would never play it again,” she explained. “It reminded me of a time when I was so… well, some of you guys were there. Being so young and sad and drunk and under pressure that I wrote an entire album about being under the sea.”
However, as time went on, especially during the pandemic lockdowns, she reflected on this song and why so many fans called it their favorite song.
“Anything I thought was too messy or too broken, you took to your heart and kept it safe,” Welch continued. “So I said if the shows ever came back, I’d sing that song again as a thank you.”
Thank God she has reconsidered: “Never Let You Go” was stunningly beautiful, a chilling ballad with an emotional, powerful voice.
After that, “Shake It Off” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” were almost bonuses, beloved songs from the first two albums, happy sing-alongs to dance the night to an end.
Florence + the machine
When: 14 Oct
Where: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/15/florence-the-machine-enchants-fans-with-an-ethereal-night-of-artful-rock-at-the-hollywood-bowl/ Florence + the Machine enchants fans with an ethereal night of artful rock at the Hollywood Bowl – Orange County Register