Through the primal boom of stony drum beats came the soaring tune of a goddess divine. Florence + the Machine stopped in Chicago while on a mini US tour following the release of Ceremonials. Florence’s second album reveals a darker side of the star, but don’t worry; she wears it well and her hair is still bright red.
She fittingly opened with the first song on her new album; Only if for a Night. The song reads like an emotional dream that –once awoken – feels like reality. These sorts of dreams stick with people, and provide time for reflection. The essence of that feeling –from waking from a dark dream – is very similar to experiencing a Florence + the Machine concert. It has been several weeks since attending the show, and the music – particularly Florence’s performance – has stuck with me.
Ask me what clothes I’ve worn last week, and I won’t be able to tell you. Ask me what Florence Welch wore a month and a half ago, and I can: a red flowing gown with Italian Renaissance style arm length sleeves, a high neck collar sporting a giant bow, and black stiletto pumps. No wonder Gucci announced last summer that it would be dressing the star for her US Tour. Note to Gucci: marketing plan a success! Please pick me next. I will happily wear a collection of your finest gowns while I write.
Eventually Florence did take her shoes off, but it was not because they were uncomfortable; twirling is best done with bare feet. As I looked around at my fellow audience members I noticed a collective smile grow on the faces around me. When I realized that I, too, held a wide grin, I wondered: how could a simple action be such a memorable moment?
Then it hit me. In all of her Gucci glamour, tall model like body (although she said on stage that she is not as tall as everyone thinks she is, she just dresses tall) and proper British accent, Florence Welch is an individual first. She does not restrict herself from expressing her own uniqueness. After all, she named her band “the Machine” and then prominently featured a harpist in it. His name is Tom Monger, by the way, and his specialty is the Industrial Harp. It’s a niche market.
Being true to yourself has worked out well for PS22 Chorus, a Staten Island, New York public school kids’ choir. The group recently did a great cover of the Florence + the Machine song “What the Water Gave Me.” The lead singer, another true individual with strikingly memorable hair like Florence, is interviewed after the performance.
The opening act at the concert, Laura Marling, is also a talented young female British singer/songwriter. I hadn’t come across her before, but after hearing her performance, I am confident that she will be back to America again soon. Her style is reminiscent of 1960s folk music, but with a modern twist. She has a voice like Joan Baez and lyrics like Bob Dylan. I’m not making any accusations, but if those two musicians ever had a love child while they dated she would come out singing like Laura Marling. You heard it here first.
I once saw an interview with Florence Welch where she said that “the Machine” started out as just herself, but over time she collected band members. Something about each artist caught her eye and she asked them to join. I have a sneaking suspicion that she also collects her fans in a similar way. The difference is, though, that she doesn’t have to ask; she only has to sing, kick her shoes off and invite the audience to dance.[/wide]