Sunday, October 18, 2015

Florence + The Machine dazzle capacity crowd at The Hollywood Bowl

Florence Welch on Oct. 17, 2015 at The Hollywood Bowl
Photo: Robert Kinsler
The legendary Hollywood Bowl has featured countless memorable concerts since its opening in the 1920s, including the far-flung and masterful likes of Judy Garland, Nat "King" Cole, The Doors, Luciano Pavarotti, Radiohead and The Beatles (in 1964 and 1965).

At the second of two consecutive sold-out performances, singer-songwriter Florence Welch returned with her mesmerizing Florence + The Machine to the venue on Oct. 17, 2015 for a 95-minute performance that was powerful from start to finish. 

Bolstered by Welch's soaring soprano, theatrical presence and self-assurance, the songstress and her 11-member ensemble displayed the same style of grandeur they exhibited on the main stage at Coachella earlier this year. The difference this night (in addition to the 29-year-old singer having fully recovered from a broken foot she suffered at weekend 1 of Coachellafest) was that the set in late April 2015 played out prior to the release of Welch's third full-length album, the dazzling How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. With so much of that set (and this one) featuring material from that now-familiar disc, the audience's connection with the songs was obviously a deeper one.

Whether it was in the gorgeous opener "What the Water Gave Me" (off her sophomore "Ceremonials" album) or title track off How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, it was clear that Welch has become a master of sharing each of her song's innermost secrets, revealing the sonic peaks and valleys of each lyrical phrase and musical measure. There were songs that were more focused in their pomp (notably "Ship to Wreck" early in the set, and propulsive "Queen of Peace" much later), but the magic of Florence + the Machine comes with her blending theater and music with the skill and originality of her English musical ancestors including Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel

With a night filled with so many highlights, here are some moments that struck me: the incredible acapella opening with her distinctive voice showcased alone on "Shake It Out," tearing through the audience to sing on a mini-stage positioned many rows into the audience on the gospel-tinged "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," the harp-anchored "Cosmic Love" and the spirited "Spectrum."

One of modern music's most creative talents, this is one fan who can't wait to see what Florence + The Machine will do next.

Florence + The Machine setlist on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015:
What the Water Gave Me / Ship to Wreck / Shake It Out / Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) / Third Eye / Delilah / You've Got The Love / How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful / Cosmic Love / Sweet Nothing / Mother / Queen of Peace / Spectrum / Dog Days Are Over

What Kind of Man / Drumming Song

Robert Kinsler

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