Review: ‘Florence and the Machine’

Despite the fact that the venue had no walls, Florence Welch's voice echoed through the Greek Theater in a show of robust vocal ability that sometimes iTunes just can't capture.

Despite the fact that the venue had no walls, Florence Welch’s voice echoed through the Greek Theater in a show of robust vocal ability that sometimes iTunes just can’t capture. Eschewing elaborate staging in favor of creative lighting and decorative backdrops, Florence and The Machine proved that it may be one of few bands among its contemporary peers to sound better live. Free from digital enhancements, flashy costume changes or distracting acrobatics, the group used the ethereal, penetrating voice of its lead singer as the centerpiece for the 90-minute show.

The 12-song set, plus a two-song encore, drew almost exclusively from the band’s debut album “Lungs,” whose hit “Dog Days Are Over” helped Florence and The Machine cross over from the U.K. to become a North American chart-topper last year. While Welch’s carefully hewn vocals and graceful, often delicate movements served as a reminder of why the Academy requested her performance at this year’s Oscars, the band’s set list suffered mildly from a lack of new material, or at the very least, a little surprise.

Band performed brand-new track “What the Water Gave Me” –- a melodic, soulful tune recognizable as a close relative to “Lungs” –- but stopped short of offering more new material. While the group earned points by performing lesser-known “Strangers & Charm” at the beginning of their encore, it closed predictably with hit “Dog Days Are Over.” Florence’s most famous single might have better served as a mid-show boost in favor of a more original ending, although “Hurricane Drunk” and “Drumming” more than picked up the energy halfway.

Fans looking for a dedicated, carefully crafted performance of Florence’s first album, however, got what they came for. Gliding around the stage, Welch even used her outfit – a swath of barely-there green fabric and a cape that seemed like it must have had a wind machine following it around — to complement the ethereal, often ghostly quality of her voice. Delivering lusty, dynamic renditions of “Lungs” titles, it was that voice which suggested that Welch, whose howl to introduce song “Howl” somehow sounded musical, could have easily named the album in honor of her own anatomy.

Florence and the Machine

Greek Theater, 5,800 seats, $35.00 top


Presented by Nederlander. Reviewed June 13, 2011.


Band: Florence Welch, Rob Ackroyd, Isabella Summers, Mark Saunders, Chris Hayden, Tom Monger. Also appearing: Twin Shadow, Hanni El Khatib.

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