Concert Review: Florence + The Machine at Music Midtown in Atlanta
The 52,000 music fans who came out for the second day of Atlanta’s newly resurrected Music Midtown festival were treated many times over to the musical delights of 90s rockers Garbage, hometown rapper Ludacris, Adam Ant, and Neon Trees. As the sun began its decent, the Electric Ballroom Stage prepared for arguably England’s best offering at the moment, Florence + The Machine.
Lead singer Florence Welch, and her Machine, keyboardist Isabella “Machine” Summers, guitarist Rob Ackroyd, drummer Chris Hayden, and harpist Tom Monger are so good in fact, they have the honor of being the first band Concert Tour has reviewed twice. They put on a stellar performance at Memphis’ Beale Street Festival in May, and we couldn’t wait to see them again at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.
As the opening notes for “Only If For a Night” began, Florence and her flaming locks took the stage in an gothic Gucci gown, ready to take Atlanta by storm. Unfortunately, as she began to sing the first lines of the song, technical difficulties became apparent, and she had to begin again. While the third try proved to be the charm, she later described her terror as equal to “the dream where you show up to school without any clothes on.” A few alcoholic beverages seemed to loosen her nerves, and although her first numbers were a bit shaky, the crowd embraced her wholeheartedly. While her lungs lead you to believe otherwise, she is human after all. She really hit her stride during “Cosmic Love,” giving us nearly an hour of enigmatic stage performance and one of the most hauntingly beautiful vocal performances I have heard all year.
The perfection of her vocal performance was nothing short of impressive. Florence has had a grueling touring schedule and a July vocal cord injury threatened to bench her for the summer. The addition of background singers seemed to allow her to save her voice for the notes that count, and she certainly made the important notes count. “No Light, No Light” and “Heartlines” were chock full of emotion, but the Ceremonials track “Lover to Lover,” was easily my favorite of the evening. She commanded the stage as each any every note pulsated through her body and as she became lost in the performance, it was easy to confuse her body as a vehicle for something greater. Her talent truly feels other-worldy, and even Eddie Vedder commented on her genius during Pearl Jam’s subsequent set. Grinning ear to ear as she sang the last note of her latest single “Spectrum,” she seemed as genuinely impressed with her lungs as we were.
Her humble demeanor is certainly part of her charm. She takes her role seriously, as she was quoted in the WSJ, “The shows are getting big and people have paid good money to come and see [me]. I really feel very strongly about wanting to connect with people in an honest and passionate way.” While her drive to connect with the fans necessitated a warning to the security team to “keep up with this girl. She runs…A LOT,” they did their best as she sprinted up and down the length of the photo pit before launching deep into the audience during “Rabbit Heart.”
Inevitably, our evening with Florence had to come to a close, but not before the exorcism that is “Shake It Out.” The song, written with a hangover, about a hangover, has taken on a life of its own, and is undoubtedly one of Ceremonials’ best. Our last treat was the Lungs single “Dog Days Are Over,” each note sung with nothing short of pure joy, leaving us with no doubt of how much this lady loves her work. When I have the pleasure of reviewing artists like Flo, the feeling is absolutely mutual.
Between a busy schedule off the main stage, performing at BFF (Best Fashion Friend) Blake Lively’s wedding, and collaborating with Calvin Harris on a “Spectum” remix and his new single “Sweet Nothing”, you have a few more chances to see Florence + The Machine before they take a well deserved open-ended break from touring. They are playing a few more U.S. dates, including Austin City Limits, and several U.K. dates until the end of the year. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Florence + The Machine Music Midtown Set List : September 22, 2012
Only If For A Night
What The Water Gave Me
Lover To Lover
Shake It Out
No Light, No Light
Dog Days Are Over