Barefoot and elegantly androgynous, Florence Welsh positively skipped onto the Vector Arena stage for the final show of her ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ tour in Auckland last night.
The mood was buoyantly rapturous and it rarely wavered during Florence and the Machine’s hour and a half set of hits that spanned across all three of their albums to date. Florence’s distinctly pure voice oscillated beautifully between vulnerably soft and unabashedly powerful, and was well complimented by her extensive band, which comprised of backup singers, horns, synth, guitars, drummer and a harpist.
Wearing white fitted flares paired with a flowing sheer shirt and waistcoat, Welsh’s trademark red hair tumbled around her in a flurry as she whipped the crowd into frenzy with her onstage antics. As she ran, span and even jumped into the crowd she continued to hit every note with otherworldly precision. In the middle of a rainstorm, Florence and her Edith Piaf inspired interpretive dance had us feeling like we had stepped into a summer festival. But what made this rock n’ roll energy distinctly unique was the pure joy that radiated from Florence herself. It was as if Glinda the Good Witch had found herself in Woodstock, and it was utterly charming. Raising her hands above her, she shaped her tapered fingers into a heart before launching into You’ve Got the Love while for her final song she encouraged the crowd to embrace and kiss each other before taking off some clothes and waving it around “for love and peace and because you love being released” before beginning Dog Days are Over. Remarkably, no one hesitated and Florence herself joined in on the fun, ripping off her waistcoat and punching the air with gusto.
Florence has proven time and time again that she’s a consummate performer but this moment captured the very ethos of Florence and the Machine – building connections with others and celebrating the unbreakable bond that the music has created between us. How big, How beautiful indeed.
This article was first published in Rip It Up magazine on November 22nd 2015.