And then there’s Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch.
A singular entity in the pop/rock world, the powerhouse British singer exists in a category all her own. Last night at Blossom before a crowd of about 17,000, she twirled and whirled her way through a dynamic two-hour performance that showed off her vocal range and reflected her unparalleled intensity. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
At the show’s start, Welch handed single stem roses to some of the fans in the pit at the front of the stage. Wearing pink bellbottoms and a pink vest with an imprint of a snake stitched on the back, the red-haired Welch looked like she stepped right out of the ’60s, and the concert felt like it could have been one of those career-defining moments at Woodstock.
Once the show began with “What the Water Gave Me” and “Ship Wreck,” a tune that commenced with a groovy bass riff, Welch was all in, running the length of the stage (in bare feet, no less) and manically twirling and dancing before striking a dramatic pose at the end of each song. She effortlessly sang an a cappella intro to “Shake It Out” and adopted a falsetto for sections of “Delilah.” Before playing the title track of last year’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
, she politely asked fans to put away their cell phones just so they could live in the moment. While most obliged, she chastised those who didn’t saying, “I’m much better in 3-D.” Their loss.
She screeched with the intensity of Sinead O’Connor on the hard rocking “Queen of Peace” and then adopted a soulful baritone for a cover of the Source’s “You’ve Got the Love.” After punctuating the set closing rocker “Dog Days Are Over” with some vicious fist pumps in the air, she returned for an encore that included the scorching “What Kind of Man,” a big hit from How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Because her vocals sometimes sounded distorted, the vocal mix in the Blossom pavilion didn’t do Welch justice. But in the lawn (where it was one big dance party despite the constant rain), her vocals sounded spot-on.
Indie rockers Of Monsters and Men opened with a well-executed set. The band’s mid-tempo orchestral pop tunes had a real depth to them, in part because the band used such an array of instrumentation (horns, percussion and accordion in addition to drums, guitar and bass). By the set’s end, the Icelandic group had fans dancing and singing along to tunes such as the horn-driven “Little Talks.”
The contemporary pop/rock world features plenty of modern-day divas. Singers such as Beyonce, Adele and Katy Perry all put on elaborate concerts that feature costume changes, choreography and larger-than-life set designs.