Florence Welch is able to be many things at the same time. During her performance in Burnaby on July 20, she was mystical, powerful, fragile, masterful, graceful, and enchanting. She moved between being a delicate princess fairy (aspiring to be a ballerina, based on her fluid dance moves), and a quirky yet unstoppable woman. She is a sorceress; everyone there was mesmerized by her every move. We were all at her command. She is an ethereal super-being; everything about her is unbelievable, and yet everything about her is incredibly real.
I drove to Burnaby over Thursday and Friday with my dad. It was a long haul, but it was more than worth it after we got out of that concert. Florence opened with “Only If For A Night,” the opening track off her latest album, Ceremonials. The crowd went nuts, unable to control themselves. This woman had everyone falling in love with her. She belted out the song, dancing across the stage like the most graceful gazelle imaginable. “Only If For A Night” was indicative of the remainder of the performance that night. Florence gave her all in every song, leading her band that was comprised of about 8 members. An acoustic performance of “Heartlines” that was full of audience participation was beautiful; it was slower paced and calmer than a lot of the other songs that night, but still incredibly compelling and energetic. “Raise It Up (Rabbit Hole)” saw Florence asking as many people as possible to “raise up” the person they were with onto their shoulders. Within seconds, we were surrounded by a sea of fans on other fans shoulders, only too happy to fulfill Florence’s request. Every song she performed had a full and robust sound, but none compared to “Seven Devils.” Florence and her band created an unbelievably captivating sound that hypnotized the audience. “Seven Devils” was overwhelming in the best way possible. It was at that moment that I felt honoured to be in her magnificent presence. Fan favourites “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days Are Over” were overflowing with energy and excitement. Florence was like a bubbly pixie, bouncing all over the stage, and her fans were jumping and bouncing right along with her the whole time. She came out for an encore, very humble and thankful that we were such a great crowd. “Never Let Me Go” was sung beautifully and with solidity. For me, it embodied the feeling of the whole concert: the audience didn’t want to let go of her, and Florence didn’t want to let go of her fans. She concluded the set with a passionate performance of “No Light, No Light,” one of her more recent singles. By the end of the night, the crowd seemed delighted and high from the musical experience they had just witnessed.
Superhuman. Florence Welch is an amazing sight to behold. She is beyond words. She seems quiet and at peace with herself, but don’t mistake her for being shy. I have seen very few performers who had such a genuine rapport with their audience. During “Spectrum,” she asked the audience to express themselves and was delighted to see all of her fans dancing and being expressive. She shared some of her traveling woes with the audience. Her and one of her bandmates got kicked out of a restaurant called “Hog Town” for eating non-Hog Town affiliated foods. You could tell she was slightly amused that this is the restaurant she would be kicked out of, but she was very humbled by it; the story reminded the audience that she was human, despite her ethereal superhuman presence.
The trip was worth every hassle encountered (the Vancouver transit system, as it turns out, is not easy to navigate if you don’t know the routes). Florence + the Machine put on a fulfilling show, and I couldn’t have expected more. I was very lucky to have been there. I recommend to any Florence fans to see her, even if it means traveling. You will not regret it. It will be one of the best concert experiences you’ll ever have.