By S. Pulse
Candlesticks and chandeliers draped in gauze adorned the stage, hinting of a pending spiritual visitation. Abruptly, the striking tribal beats of “Heaven is Here” filled the Moody Center as an ethereal Florence Welch emerged on the stage amidst a beam of bright light. Barefoot and clad in a flowing red ball gown of chiffon and lace, Welch took control of the Moody Center as she punched the air in a high energy dance punctuated with trilling tribal screams. The crowd reciprocated her vivacity and erupted with cheers as Welch immediately launched into the bass-driven track “King,” a haunting song that became a breakout track from her latest album Dance Fever.
About half of the songs performed by Florence and the Machine at the Moody Center concert were tracks from the new album- which includes a group of songs that explore personal introspection set in contrast against her, often liberating, public performing persona. Unified by driving beats, dance worthy riffs and peppered with poetic introspection, these songs amazed the crowd, many of whom already knew every word to every song. Standouts include the song “Free,” about dance’s ability to provide release from the highs and lows of anxiety. Welch had fans singing along with arms waving up and down to the chorus, “It picks me up, puts me down, a hundred times a day.” Another stand-out song from the new album was Welch’s performance of “Morning Elvis” that she wrote “about a messy time” while touring, explaining that it is the energy that she gets from performing on stage that “saves me.”
While performing “Prayer Factory,” another song from Dance Fever, Welch was descending the stage in a spotlight as she touched the outreached hands of concert goers like an evangelist of dance and music. In fact, Welch entered the crowd multiple times during the evening dispensing her musical salvation as she connected with fans, even cupping a few lucky fans faces between her hands in a comforting gesture.
Fans may be interested to learn that co-producers on the last album included Jack Antonoff (Bleachers), Dave Bayley (Glass Animals), and Kid Harpoon. Each contributed their expertise to Dance Fever along with Welch. The redemptive nature of dance was an underlying theme for the album, as well as for the evening. The song “Choreomania” was inspired by a practice that occurred in the Middle Ages where people would dance manically in large groups until they would collapse. We are guessing there may have been a few cases of Choreo Mania in the Moody Center.
The crowd had a dynamic response to both the new album as well as to favorites from Florence and the Machine’s previous work. “Ship to Wreck,” a song about post partying regrets, brought the crowd to its feet with a burst of energy. Concert goers jumped in place with many screaming out the chorus “to wrrrecckk.” The edgy “What Kind of Man” elicited a similar response from the crowd. Welch paused to address concert goers before playing her biggest hit, imploring the crowd to “put your phones away and just live in the moment.” The obedient crowd was rewarded, as they launched into the first few bars of epic hit, “Dog Days are Over” igniting the crowd. Another song that people could not resist moving to, was the garage punk inspired song “Kiss With a Fist.” Other material from previous albums that stirred the crowd included her vulnerable song “Hunger,” a track that explores her struggles with an eating disorder as well as “Big God,” a song about the hole left after a relationship ends abruptly.
See all our concert photos on Austin 101 Magazine.
In all, Florence and the Machine delivered about a two-hour set that expertly weaved together old and new material in a cohesive sermon touting human vulnerability and the healing power of dance. It truly was an evening with spiritual overtones, which is fitting as Welch’s strong voice often sounds angelic. However, she also bravely tackled dark human struggles as well, often with a fearless vocal range. The band saved hit “Shake it Out” for one of the encore songs. A redemptive song, it also reminds us that Welch is an insightful songwriter and we’re thankful that she continues to create new music exposing her fears and insecurities. We hope Welch will continue to “keep her issues drawn”, afterall, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
- Heaven is Here
- Ship to Wreck
- Dog Days Are Over
- Dream Girl Evil
- Prayer Factory
- Big God
- What Kind of Man
- Morning Elvis
- Kiss With a Fist
- Cosmic Love
- My Love
- Never Let Me Go (encore)
- Shake it Out (encore)
- Rabbit Head / Raise it Up (encore)