Florence and the MachineIt was an eclectic group that gathered at Burswood Dome to welcome indie darling and enigmatic frontwoman of Florence and the Machine, Florence Welch, on stage for the first leg of her Australian tour. The question was, could she live up to the hype or would the fans go home disappointed?

Yes, she could, and no, they didn't.

It's been a meteoric rise for the group: their first album, "Lungs" (released 2009), was an instant success followed up by 2011's chart-topping "Ceremonials" which debuted at number one in the UK and number six in the US.

And their star is still rising if last night's enthusiasm was anything to go by.

Welch made a suitably dramatic entrance, her waifish silhouette projected onto an art deco-inspired backdrop of shifting aqueous colours, before slowly descending the staircase in a black cape with gold trim – (the kind of attire that has made her a fashion muse for designers such as Dries Van Noten and Valentino) – and kicking things off with the ethereal "I Have a Dream," the perfect warm-up song to her more energetic numbers.

Though there's no disputing Welch's talent – (her range is phenomenal and her operatic stylings are powerful, yet remarkably controlled) – a large part of her appeal lies in her enigmatic performance, the talented redhead frequently striking theatrical poses, bantering with the crowd or skipping around the stage with all the energy of a sugared-up kid.

The audience evidently knew the lyrics to every song by heart, a fact Welch frequently acknowledged by turning the microphone back on the audience and saying "thank you so much Perth" in her sultry English accent whenever she got the opportunity.

An impromptu dance routine was also on the menu; Welch asking everyone (the seated lot included) to stand up and join her "jump around", most of them complying, despite the risk of sustaining injuries in Burswood's notoriously narrow rows.

While songs like "Rabbit Heart" and "Shake it Out" were definite crowd pleasers, it was "Never Let Me Go" – (a song which most Australians should know if only for its featuring in Channel Seven's relentlessly plugged Titanic miniseries) – that really got the crowd going, its melancholy overtones the perfect vehicle for Welch's soulful voice and theatrical stylings.

The consummate performer, Welch returned to the stage for an encore despite getting a deep cut on her foot backstage, apologising to everyone for "bleeding all over the stage" before belting out two more crowdpleasers.

All in all, it was a great night, with Burswood Dome proving that they're still a decent venue for big acts. The only minor letdown was support act Blood Orange whose performance was not at all in keeping with the evening's mood.

Still, you can't win them all.


Florence and the Machine

Venue: Burswood Dome | Great Eastern Highway, Burswood WA
Date: 7.00pm, 17 May 2012
Bookings: www.ticketek.com.au




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