Florence and the Machine bring their otherworldy new album to the Scotiabank Arena.
The stage is set like a topographical map, with the stairs as undulations of the flat top where the band assemble. Florence enters with Mrs. Haversham levels of ghostly aplomb; her flowing dress and waifish movements becoming a whirling dervish by the end of her first song, new album opener June.
If you’d only heard Florence on CD, you’d expect an all seated arena. But her on stage performance demands the kind of energy that can only be delivered by a standing crowd. Florence leads her fans’ jumping and dancing, firstly from the front row and steering the energy into the seats. Leaping down flights of steps and running the length of the stage. At times Welch looks like a ballerina from a music box, spinning and spinning, then flinging herself around the stage like she’s being pulled by a mistress puppeteer. Her voice is as clear as crystal, maintaining it’s timbre despite the stadium sound system.
During Patricia, an ode to Patti Smith, billowing sails lower from the rafters, matching Florence’s dress. Mid-set the strumming of the harp picks out the intro to Dog Days and Florence dances around the entire stage, building up the excitement in her audience, and finishing with a request; everyone put away their phones, tell someone you love them, and embrace.
There is a moment of genuine connection as Florence states: “Every day is a different heartbreak but please don’t give up hope…hope is an action. Keep showing up. A revolution in consciousness starts with you” encouraging the crowd to hold hands. It’s a message shrouded in optimism. Keep fighting and keep connecting, and we will prevail.
As the show begins to wrap up, Florence runs into the crowd during Delilah, circling the floor of the arena, engulfed by the crowd and visible only as a leaping mass of red hair surrounded by fans. As she returns to her band, she climbs atop the barrier – hanging over the front row and holding onto people like a messianic zombie.
She’s a modern day Kate Bush, an elfin creature, a dreamy hippie with bouts of energy and a magical voice. And ten years in, Florence and the Machine show no signs of slowing down.