Written by Guest Writer Jasmine Lin
The dog days are over- Florence + the Machine are back on tour in the U.S., simultaneously with the release of their first live album, Live at the Wiltern. Since their last North American tour, the band has flowered in popularity in the states with their performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, and the boost in sales of their 2009 debut album, Lungs.
I attended Florence + the Machine’s second show of her 2011 tour at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The Greek Theatre is strangely embedded in an old but wealthy neighborhood and lush greenery, which at the time led me to believe I had the wrong address. However, aside from the horrible traffic (I was forced to take a detour through a pitch black forest at midnight), the Greek Theatre proved itself as a nice and perfectly-sized venue that I am looking forward to visiting again. The entrance allows enough room for a small stage and plenty of booths for the bands’ use, and the venue sells popcorn and alcoholic beverages for concert attendees.
Hanni el Khatib, the first opening act, played for less than a quarter of the audience, and even the audience that was there didn’t seem impressed with their nothing-out-of-the-ordinary act.
As a Twin Shadow fan, I thoroughly enjoyed their set, but as more people were filing into the venue, the audience grew weary of opening acts that seemed to go on in perpetuity instead of two hours.
Finally, the main event. Florence Welch appears in front of a beautiful, vivid backdrop. She’s wearing a long, flowing, yellow dress. The “Machine” starts to play, and among them, the harp is most prominent. The crowd goes wild. Two hours of a Florence and the Machine concert without Florence or the Machine was two hours too many. However, after just a chorus into the first song, “My Boy Builds Coffins,” the crowd falls flat, as if most of them don’t know the song.
They continue the first half of the show playing non-singles, which keeps the audience placid until the magical hit, “Cosmic Love.” The backdrop lights up with stars as the harpist shows off his musicality. However, the band was not featured much aside from a single introduction; the unique instrumentals were overshadowed by Welch’s haunting and supernatural voice. Also contradictory to my expectations, all of the songs were played exactly the way they are on the album; there were no extraordinarily long and high notes that were belted, nor any syncopated instrumentals or vocals. (I was hoping to experience something beyond my beloved and overplayed Lungs record.) Lastly, I found myself disappointed in discovering that there were no dancers, like the ones that made the band’s artistic vision come to life at the MTV Video Music Awards. Although contemporary dancers would have been a nice addition to the show, Welch proved that she did not need superfluous performers with her own captivating quality.
The vibe of the audience progressively built up throughout the duration of the show, as they seemed to take a while to warm up (I was among the few who were actually standing up and singing along. Either the audience didn’t know any of the lyrics, or they were too busy absorbing the dark vibrations of the unique music to bother involving themselves.) Nevertheless, the crowd was a friendly bunch, not to mention a fashionable one, and I was able to appreciate the show without the elbowing and outright rudeness that can be found at other shows; everyone was there to have a good time themselves and with each other. Welch stole the show with her carefree child-like dancing around and daintiness; with her bold dress, scintillating personality, and Elysian voice, she left everyone mesmerized in awe, under her spell. During songs such as “Howl” and “Drumming Song” Welch’s power, emotion, and soaring high notes often ended up in screams, whereas in between songs, she unveiled her truly genuine, thankful, and perhaps even a little shy, personality in a sweet British accent that all of us Americans simply adore.
After a few acoustic renditions and covers, the band’s exiting of the stage left everyone wanting more. I, too, felt as though my fandemonium hadn’t been fulfilled, and I was not at all ready to leave. Answering to our cheers, the band returned to the stage and played a brand new song, “Bedroom Hymns,” which the crowd was excited to be let in on, and of course, the single they are famous for, “Dog Days Are Over.” At this point, the audience finally reached their acme in volume and excitement with a song that everyone knew. Welch asked the audience for one favor: to jump to the rest of the song while singing along, which everyone was more than happy to do. Although “Dog Days Are Over” may not be my favorite Florence + the Machine song, it was unquestionably the highlight of the night with the crowd finally going all out, though it may have come a little later than I would have preferred. I left the concert content, but was rather annoyed that the audience wasn’t as lively throughout the other 95% of the show. Loud cheers and familiarity or not, the band carried a generally good performance with a few outstanding moments, and although I probably wouldn’t purchase a $60 ticket for a Section C seat to see them again, I would definitely recommend all Florence + the Machine fans to see them in concert once.