Florence + The Machine: a night of bonding and big lungs

TD Garden, Boston, September 14, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Chances are the crowd knew exactly why they were seeing Florence + The Machine, but part way through, Florence gave an introduction to herself anyway. She wondered if people thought they were coming to some sort of cult outing. The uninitiated – and there thousands who indicated by their response that this was their first Florence show – may have thought so.

How else to explain numerous young women who wore long, flowing dresses and/or put a garland with flowers in their hair, trying to emulate the big-lunged British singer?

Welch (yes, she does have a surname) then told the crowd before launching into "Dog Days Are Over," "you'll have a much better time if you do everything I say." One suspects she was joking. It wasn't meant with an overwhelming sense of ego. But Welch sure had an obedient crowd follow her every move. When she sang the lines "As it picks me up, puts me down" from her single "Free," Welch waved her arms and down. So, did the crowd.

When Welch told people to put their cellphones away, they readily complied – at least for one song.

Fortunately, Welch is a lot more than a stage director. Her greatest strength is her vocal prowess. She could big. Real big, but that didn't she overdid it. Her voice is a real strength. It's no wonder she called one of her albums "Lungs."

Welch took a little bit to get going because the lead-off songs "Heaven Is Here" and "King" didn't make much of an impression. But Welch self-corrected with her hit "Ship to Wreck" and "Free," setting the stage for an engaging nearly two-hour show.

If you liked her "Dance Fever" CD, which came out in May, chances are you would have enjoyed the show because she played 12 of the 14 songs from it. And no surprise – the album received much critical praise – the songs are easy to digest especially given Welch's vocals.

Welch was front and center with The Machine well behind her and off to either side, almost hidden. They ably backed their leaded, particularly adding the perfect touch on the '50s styled throwback song, "Choreomania." Stylistically, the song was way way different than anything else Welch would play, making it especially welcome.

Ultimately, the night was about Welch. She was given the space on stage no doubt to bound side to side, front to back, filling songs with big theatrical gestures, like a singer possessed. That meant she's going to venture out on the floor to the fans, something she did three times, including taking a lap running around the floor. It sure meant a lot to the fans, who tightly clutched her hand and especially to one young fan who was bawling her eyes out.

Welch certainly made it crystal clear to her fans how much she appreciated them, calling this a joint concert. If she wasn't so clear about it, the cynic could tar her as unctuous.

Nope. Not with Welch. While she's had her own personal rough spots (sobriety, which she has openly talked about), Welch is all about positivity and togetherness and bonding. Fortunately for her, she could always fall back only on her musical skills.


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