• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Florence & The Machine graces the Glasgow stage in a ‘resurrection of dance’ 

BySasha White

Feb 28, 2023
An illustration of Florence Welch

Florence Welch possesses an ethereal quality that renders her live performances unforgettable. Some might even say indescribable. As the lights dim and a collection of white chandeliers descend from the ceiling of the Hydro, the crowd anticipates the enigmatic star’s entrance. 

She enters the stage in a turquoise lace gown complemented by her iconic red locks, to screams and shouts from her beloved fans. Opening the show with spoken word poetry that melts into ‘Heaven is Here’ from her latest number one album Dance Fever is a wise choice. She has the crowd in the palm of her hands. Florence is known for surrendering herself to the communal experience of live performance and she asks us to do the same. In fact, later in the show she will ask us to “put our fucking phones away” with true South London charm. 

The concept for Dance Fever stems from Welch’s fascination with choreomania, a social phenomenon in early modern Europe that involved groups of people dancing erratically. This is the perfect encapsulation of witnessing and participating in a live Florence show. She aptly describes this tour as a “resurrection of dance”. Looking at the sea of people surrounding me, captivated by her anthemic music, she couldn’t have picked a better idea for the album or tour. 

The energy in the room is palpable as she proceeds to sing her pop rock ballad ‘King’. This is a perfect choice as the monumental drum break allows Florence to fully lose herself in passionate dancing. Its powerful lyrics examine Welch’s inner conflict between her art and the pressures of starting a family. It is also a sharp exploration of gender expectations: specifically societal expectations placed upon womanhood. 

Now that the crowd is loose and engaged, Florence feeds off the buzz to sing some of her classic hits from previous albums Lungs (2009) and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (2015). ‘Dog Days Are Over’ is always a special moment at any Florence gig, but there is a particular sense of unity tonight given the nostalgia it evokes of our youth and adolescence. The energy builds once again as she belts ‘Kiss With a Fist’ which is arguably one of her most punk rock tunes. She describes this song as depicting the extremes of love and how it can become a destructive force, highlighting that it is not based on personal experience. Welch’s imagination is boundless and this is perhaps why she has been at the top of her game for so long. If anything, this performance indicates that her voice is more powerful than ever. 

Her masterful vocals continue to impress as she deftly makes her way through the setlist to, what many would say, is the stand out moment of the show: her rendition of ‘Never Let Me Go’. It is featured on her 2011 album Ceremonials and has soundtracked many a soppy TV moment. Yet many fail to notice that this song is a profound meditation on highly stigmatised themes such as depression and death. Florence tells us that it is an incredibly painful song and one that she has not sung in ten years due to the fact that it was written during a period in her life when she was suffering deeply with depression and alcoholism. She says that she has only recently built up the courage to sing it again because of the fans; because the fans keep listening to it and because of the time that has passed, she finally feels ready to sing it again. Technically, it is an extremely difficult song to sing but she makes it sound effortless and the lyrics take on a whole new meaning knowing its thematic context. 

She ends the show in euphoric style with ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ from Lungs. It is safe to say that emotions are running high. For many people, Florence & The Machine’s music has been a constant throughout their life. For each of life’s season’s, there is a Florence album to comfort and uplift us and this, I think, is what speaks to her longevity as an indie artist. Her live performances make us feel like we are part of something bigger than us, which, after the isolation of the past few years, is a powerful and much needed tonic. 

Illustration by Rachel Cunningham