Florence And The Machine @ Rod Laver Arena
Everybody loves Florence Welch. Or at least it seems that way. As the hordes made their way to Rod Laver Arena, every specimen of human was in tow: from teenybopper girls clutching banners and doing their best to imitate their idol with dyed red hair and hippie headbands, all the way to groups of older men loaded up on beer from the footy, stocking up on more pints to get them through the show – and everything in between.
As an ambient blue haze soaked the arena, the stage revealed Flo’s soaring silhouette to screams of adoration. She ripped into opener Only If For A Night and first impressions were good. The meaty drums sounded suitably huge and provided a solid foundation for Welch’s wails, which were as strong as ever. With her dark eye make-up and maroon cape, she looked almost demonic as she grasped the air and pointed out sections of the crowd – to the point that it was almost scary. However, after the first couple of numbers, it became evident that this was just part of her stage character, because as soon as a song finished, she would warm the crowd with her charm and jovial chit-chat, finding a way to dwarf the arena and give the gig a sense of intimacy that shouldn’t be possible.
Sustaining a foot injury from earlier in the tour, this had done nothing to impede her energy. She galloped and twirled from one side of the stage to the other in the on-form Cosmic Love and Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) and it wasn’t until Shake it Out that cracks appeared in the set. For some reason, something just didn’t quite click; the band didn’t seem as bonded as they had previously been, and Florence wasn’t fully committing herself to the notes you’d expect her to. However, it turned out to be an anomaly. As soon as Dog Days Are Over came out, the crowd was bouncing in unison, and Spectrum saw Welch issuing screams of “say my name” atop a dangerously pulsating bassline. However it was Seven Devils which stood out – the atmospheric strings, eerie piano line and ghostly choral vocals provided a welcome break from the exhaustingly big choruses we had been dealt prior.
Coming back out to an encore of No Light, No Light, the track saw Welch go back into psycho-mode as she banged on the drums like a mad, possessed witch. It proved to be good enough to justify a set omitting You’ve Got The Love and showed that Florence was definitely Florence; but on that night, Rod Laver Arena was the Machine, under her control.
BY CALLUM FITZPATRICK
LOVED: Seven Devils.
HATED: Feeling like I was at a boy band concert.
DRANK: A Sunday night lemonade.