The English indie rock band that formed in London in 2007 has had a meteoric rise to fame with their previous two albums receiving almost universal critical acclaim, and their third studio release, How Big How Blue How Beautiful is no different, garnering glowing reviews and accolades from fans and media alike.
But what you hear on the album is only amplified in a performance context: Welch is an entertainer of the highest calibre, making it difficult to fathom that she’s only been in the business for a relatively short period of time. From the outset, it was clear that Welch was fully in control, making a suitably dramatic entrance in white satin pants and vest atop a flowing blue blouse (the kind of eccentric getup that has made her one of fashion’s favourite musical muses), before breaking into an energetic rendition of What The Water Gave Me which got the at-capacity arena into a fist-pumping fever.
Thankfully, Welch revisited many of her earlier songs (always a boon for those hanging out to sing along word-for-word to old favourites), interspersing crowd-pleasers like You’ve Got the Love, Shake it Out and Dog Days are Over with offerings from her latest album such as What Kind of Man, Third Eye and Ship To Wreck.
Vocally speaking, she has that rarest of commodities – originality – which makes up for the occasional pitchiness in otherwise impressive vocals, but what really floored me is that Welch manages to sing at all, performing as she does. Hitting those notes is fine in a studio setting, but to do so after having run around the entire arena, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, is the real accomplishment. And Welch’s theatrics are such that this is what she felt compelled to do, along with burying herself into the arms of fans, fainting dramatically, and skipping and twirling her way through the majority of her songs. Indeed, at times it’s hard to remember that you’re attending a concert rather than witnessing a piece of performance art.
Whatever your taste in music, it’s hard not to love Welch. Not just for being a phenomenal performer, but because her joie de vivre is contagious, and part of the reason I believe her shows have such massive appeal. In her breathy, delicate English accent, she told the crowd that that the impetus behind the writing of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (one of the last songs she performed and the titular track from her new album) was falling in love. She wrote it she said, under skies “almost as blue as ours” before taking it home to grey, rainy London where it became for her that little patch of blue again before making its way onto the record.
It was a beautiful moment, one of many, in a performance that was even more spectacular than her last outing to our shores. And that’s saying something.
Florence and the Machine
Venue: Perth Arena
Date: 7 November 2015
Tickets: $79.90 – $102.75