Florence and the Machine at the Wiltern

credit: aleachristine
photo credit: alea christine

Oh Florence Welch, I hope that when I die the angels sound as lovely as you did this past Sunday at the Wiltern. I hope they sing with the same sort cinematic grandeur because the only way to sum up her performance is other worldly.

I arrived around 7pm  and stood in a line that wrapped around the block like floppy shoelace loops. I had reserved seats in the Mezzanine and settled in to the tiny (even for me!) seats of the theater.  Grouplove was the first opening act. They reminded me of the Polyphonic Spree and played the kind of music you associated with candy and childhood.  They were high energy and very entertaining (much like children on a sugar high).

Hanni El Khatib followed, a dark grunge jazz duo (I don’t know if that makes sense, but imagine seeing a two piece band in a seedy bar). Although I couldn’t really understand what the guy was singing about (the reverb was a bit too much), I definitely got the feeling it had to do with lust, loss, and maybe some booze. I think they should have actually been the first opening band, since Grouplove’s high energy would have been a better fit for Florence and the Machine’s larger than life set.

The curtain raised and there was Florence standing in the middle of the stage, banging a single drum with such force that it echoed off the walls of the theater.  “Drumming Song” was a fantastic opening song choice, the rhythm pushed through my veins and made my heart race with excitement and anticipation.

At one point, the back of Florence’s dress came undone. She giggled while her bandmate helped fasten her back up again and then said, “well, if I can’t fix my dress, it’s okay. You all will get your money’s worth!”  Between songs she gave sweet, quiet thank yous to the audience–it was hard to believe this was the same woman who, moments before, had the kind of control over her voice that I associated with singers twice her age. She is a beautiful force of nature, a singer whose talent and presence completely engulf you while she’s on stage.

Florence and the Machine is definitely a band you need to see live.  I’m listening to the album now and, while it’s fantastic, it doesn’t have the same sort of energy as the live show. In concert, Florence Welch is able to exercise those vocal chords without restraint.

It was an amazing thing to witness.