Thursday, 8 March 2012

Florence + The Machine at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena


"It's hard to dance with a Devil on your back
So shake him off..."

Actually, it's not that hard to dance at a Florence + The Machine gig: she just gets the whole audience to jump up and down when she shouts the word "Cardiff!", until it feels like all of South Wales will break off and sink into the Bristol Channel. Luckily that didn't happen last Monday night although, if it had, a few hundred people under Florence's spell might not have noticed...


After an interesting journey around Cardiff's one-way system we arrived at the Motorpoint Arena to be greeted by the sounds of Spector who were... bloody awful. I'd heard their song Chevy Thunder a few times on the radio and quite liked its sub-Vaccines energy, but as a live band they were embarrassingly poor, a bunch of indie pub-singers. We took the opportunity to buy some ridiculously overpriced Cokes and hot dogs, before heading back into the arena to watch The Horrors who were... infinitely better.

I last saw The Horrors supporting the mighty Primal Scream at the Eden Project and, as good as they were there in the sunlight, they were even better here in the darkness where they seemed more at home. Playing all the best songs from Primary Colours and Skying they created an immense wave of psychedelic noise and Goth atmospherics, with Faris far more ( re- ) animated than last time, a striking and commanding frontman, stalking the stage, scaring the little girls in the front row. I was half hoping that Florence might have joined them to duet on Still Life like she did at the NME Awards, but sadly it didn't happen. Never mind, after a fantastic set they left us with an awesome version of Sea Within A Sea - worth the price of admission by itself.


Finally, Florence and her machine appeared to mass hysteria from the crowd. Florence cut a Batgirl-like figure in her black leotard and cape... which isn't surprising when you consider the fact that she's sold her soul to the Devil and is a member of the Illuminati. It's true, I read it on YouTube only tonight :-(
Fair play, there are some nutters out there on t'internet...


Florence is a captivating, mesmerising performer - running from one side of the stage to the other, spinning like a top, raising her arms to the sky as if in pagan supplication. ( Hmm, maybe there's something in that Devil-worship idea... ) If anyone was crazy enough to stage a musical version of The Wicker Man Florence would be first choice for the Britt Ekland role...


...which wouldn't mean much if her voice wasn't up to scratch. Luckily, it was. In fact, she's one of the best vocalists I've ever seen/heard , easily replicating the strength and range of the singing on her albums, while - amazingly - giving it even more passion and energy on stage. Literally ranging from a whisper to a scream, Flo leaves most other pretenders to her crown standing. In particular that looooong note in the middle of No Light No Light was just jaw-dropping. The only problem with her vocal gymnastics is that a large percentage of the crowd felt they had to scream and whoop like they were in the bloody X-Factor audience every time she flexed the old throat muscles. This is obviously the way a lot of mainstream fans think they are expected to act at gigs after years of TV talent show conditioning, but it just made me want to shout "Shut up and just let her sing!" Grumpy old git ;-)


Top moments: that first, shiver-inducing organ note of Shake It Out; Flo beating a drum for Drumming Song ( what else? ); the
a cappella intro to You've Got The Love; the kick-ass combo of Shake It Out segueing into Dog Days Are Over; the exquisite vocals and tribal drumming of Heartlines; everyone going absolutely nuts for Rabbit Heart ( Raise It Up ); the previously-mentioned No Light No Light... it really was something special...


She left us "in the arms of the ocean" with the beautiful Never Let Me Go. We'll have to let you go for now, Florence, but we'll be back...
( Sorry, that sounds a bit creepy, really... )


And, in the audience, these two lovely Florence fans. Sarah's had a few health issues ( and a few teenage daughter issues! ) recently, so this gig was definitely some good therapy. I'm always trying to convince her to come out and see more bands, because I know what a positive thing that can be, so hopefully this will do the trick.


And this gig was Sophie's first big concert after only seeing a couple of local bands before. And she loved it, as the pic below demonstrates...


And here's some surprisingly good footage from the gig, which should give a better impression of the show than my feeble scribblings or blurry photos...

2 comments:

M. D. Jackson said...

Sounds like a great show. I'm glad you guys had a good time!

cerebus660 said...

Thanks Mike! We had a great time, alright. Looking forward to my next gig now - Ska legends The Selecter...

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