Concerts Concerts Florence + The Machine Leaves Audience In Awe

Florence + The Machine Leaves Audience In Awe

Florence + The Machine at Kool Haus
Florence + The Machine
Kool Haus in Toronto, ON
April 10, 2010

Review by: Whitney Pineault
Photos by: Amanda Fotes

As the capacity Kool Haus crowd anxiously eyed a dimly lit, flower strewn stage accompanied by a gorgeous textile tapestry backdrop, anticipation for British indie alternative act Florence + The Machine's sold out performance rapidly increased by the minute.

Openers, Holy Hail, only seemed to fuel the crowd's impatience as applause broke out when they announced their set had just one song remaining. Then again, their uninspired off-key performance seemed to worsen with each track, especially the doomed cover of Jane's Addiction's "Jane Says".

When vocalist Florence Welsh appeared on stage with her signature blazing red hair, fans erupted in excitement. Draped in black clothing and bursting with energy, she and her bandmates began their set with "Howl". Her powerful vocals hit each and every note with grace as she drifted radiantly from one side of the stage to the other. A drum had been set up for her to play when the mood struck, adding to the intensity of the performance. Two-minute grungy rock track "Kiss With A Fist" followed and although it is not the song to show off Florence's stunning vocals, it does demonstrate the band's musical diversity. Often thanking the crowd after finishing a song, Florence made sure to mention how grateful the band was for the support Canadian fans have given them, especially as of late. Just a few months earlier they had played The Mod Club, but Toronto was clearly ready for more as original venue, the Phoenix, was scrapped due to the high demand for tickets. Florence said that she was happy to see so many new faces.

"Between Two Lungs", one of the strongest tracks from their debut album, Lungs, came across flawless. Anyone familiar with the song knows how unbelievable the vocals are and she nailed them perfectly. Her voice is almost unworldly — a true entertainer, the woman was born to sing. Making the band's performance even more memorable was their harp player. The instrument's sound is distinctively heard on much of the record and was impressive just to look at. I didn't catch the musician's name but the man can play a mean harp.

The set began to really take off with "Drumming Song" as Florence wildly jumped around the stage. Her flaming hair thrashed about in every direction while she belted out the lyrics and swung what looked to be a lace shawl she had been wearing in the air. "Cosmic Love", one of my favourite songs from Lungs, proved to be another highlight. Taking off her shoes before beginning, she stood fixed in the middle of the stage as the band carried through the song. It ended with its familiar harp solo, which was just as moving live. For "Blinding" Florence switched gears as she veiled herself with the shawl. The lighting effects paired with her movements gave off a real dark and eerie atmosphere, much different than the mood thus far. And just when you thought it was over, chaos ensued! The band feverishly played as she hammered on her drum creating complete disarray. "Dog Days Are Over" was the last song of Florence + The Machine's set; it was a crowd favourite and also the most energetic. Claiming to have messed the song up every night of the tour thus far, Florence vowed to get it right for the Canadian fans. She had the entire audience jumping up and down by the end — it was a great way to wrap up such an inspiring performance.

The band returned to the stage for their encore following a brief absence and as "You've Got The Love" played in the background, Florence spoke to the audience. Describing the band's state of being in a mid-tour lull, she declared that it was shows like this that made everything worth it. "I've never said that before, ever!" she insisted. Wrapping up with "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" heart-hand gestures were exchanged and the crowd gave up every last bit of affection they had left. The band stood and applauded in return, unquestionably floored by the response. Florence was the last to leave the stage and I couldn't help but feel sad as she disappeared from view. What amazing talent this band holds and what an incredible frontwoman. This was one show that will be exceptionally hard to top.

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