Artist: Florence+The Machine Date: 15th March 2012 Venue: Manchester Evening News Arena
A silhouette is lit behind a screen centre-stage. Hysteria breaks out and all eyes are on Florence as she walks out to meet her audience more than three hours after doors opened and support acts Spector and The Horrors have warmed us up. Dressed in a black full-body catsuit and netted cloak crested with golden-jewelled shoulder pads, she looks like a warrior queen of some ancient legend with her fiery auburn hair tied back into a Grecian plait around her head.
‘Only If For A Night’ starts the programme and the queen’s voice is echoed by every single member of her audience. When ‘Between Two Lungs’ begins, she starts to dance like a graceful nymph, twisting her wrists and pirouetting across the stage. She is mesmerising, more so than any piece of flashy choreography performed by a troupe of uniform backing dancers could ever be. Florence tells everyone to jump on the count of three over the booming drum beat of ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and it is like sharing a trampoline with 20,000 other ecstatic fans. It is the power performance of the night and as the adrenaline bubbles over across the audience, three piano chords sound. We are taken into a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Cosmic Love’ and all hands are in the air, emotion pouring out of every fibre. She continues the show in equal beauty and honesty throughout, leaving the stage to screams for an encore. She doesn’t disappoint. ‘You’ve Got The Love’ starts slow and acoustic and it is then that one can appreciate the volume of the M.E.N Arena as her voice sounds over the soft music and 20,000 voices sing back. It makes me think to earlier in the programme as she introduced ‘Heartlines’ and told us how the last time she had played the venue she had been the first support act for Pete Doherty and had to cut her set short due to drunk hecklers. It is indeed, incredible for an artist who has written all of her own material and manufactured her own style completely to be able to say that she has sold out an arena tour after just her second album. After ‘You’ve Got The Love’ explodes back into its upbeat original sound, she goes on to finish the show with beautiful new single ‘Never Let Me Go’. Again our heartstrings are pulled and she is gone all too soon.
The train home is packed with sweaty Florence fans all babbling about their favourite song from the show. I am left with only one thought as we travel back to reality like tightly packed sausages; Florence Welch is the most exciting and spellbinding thing in music right now, and after the huge success of her first and second album, she looks like a queen who isn’t planning to give up her throne anytime soon.