"The Camberwell native found her fire, with the incredibly crisp and soulful rises piercing the Arena."
There is a notable absence of buzz or atmosphere in the Perth Arena at the beginning of the evening. Arenas are notoriously hard to energise but the reception that met Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders when the floor lights blacked out was akin to that of a hospital waiting room. Ladder stood tall and almost menacing as the Dreamlanders rolled through Come On Back This Way. An accurate comment from the crowd was overheard in describing Ladder himself as a "strange mixture of Nick Cave and INXS" — complimentary and true. The pulsing new wave beats of Reputation Amputation ripple out into the crowd and force all to pay attention, as the track reaches its raucous distorted finish in spectacular fashion. Suffering slightly from the absence of charismatic Dreamlander Kirin J Callinan, Ladder prowls the large stage with comfort and attitude with a short set drawing to a close on To Keep And To Be Kept.
With a stage basking in burning light stands and a flickering mirror wall rolling up behind, the 11-piece band took their almost cloaked positions on stage for the flame-haired siren herself to lead Florence + The Machine into What The Water Gave Me. Perhaps it's first night nerves, a poor mix or monitor issues but Florence Welch struggles through the first half of the track, holding position at the microphone stand and almost orchestrating the floor with hand gestures, but as the music peeled away into Ship To Wreck, the Camberwell native found her fire, with the incredibly crisp and soulful rises piercing the Arena and stirring the crowd for the first time in the night.
On stage, Welch is a strong and commanding performer, one that lets fly on rib-rattling notes as perfect as any studio production, and sprints from one end of the Arena to another to unite the floor, standing still for Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) before finishing the song standing on the shoulders of the barriers. So when it's met with the gentle and quietly spoken personal moments such as when she thanks the Perth audience for attending the first night of the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Australian tour, or gives an insight into why a certain track was written, it creates a dynamic that is inherently charming.
It is no surprise that with a setlist that bounds through Delilah, You've Got The Love, What Kind Of Man and Dog Days Are Over, Welch turns what was a completely observational and sterile, vibeless crowd into an exploding mass of elation with singing, dancing, embracing and swinging of clothing above heads to start her Australian journey with an incredible bang and leave many talking about 'that' night they sang along to Florence + The Machine.
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