Live Review: Florence + The Machine - Brisbane Riverstage

29 May 2012 | 4:59 pm | Benny Doyle

Backed by her tireless machine, tonight Florence Welch shows herself to be one of the most transcendent figures currently working the stage.

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Watching the diverse and eager audience pour through the picturesque surrounds of the QUT grounds early tonight gives the hint that we are not here to simply witness a musical performance. In three hours, this thought will be more than validated.

For now, however, it's to the hill to listen to the relatively unfamiliar sounds of Blood Orange. Besides a tight friendship with the headliner, Dev Hynes seems a strange choice for an opening act on this tour; there's no grand theatrics, engaging banter or overstatement of any kind. Surrounded by various bits of sound generating and manipulating technology, the Brit simply delivers guitar-wailing pop that drifts off into the night air. It's damn good, I'm Sorry We Lied especially pulsing; but Hynes is fighting an uphill battle, literally, to get anything back from the crowd.

The venue continues to fill and fill, bodies ready to mimic every movement, mouth every word. As Florence + The Machine file onstage one by one, a roar slowly builds, the inevitable climatic eruption signalling the arrival of flame-haired enchantress Florence Welch. Only For The Night elegantly opens the set, the peaks of the song delivering early moments of epiphany for many, Welch spreading her wings wide as if she was striving to rise above the venue. The Phoenician-like backdrop, although simple in its design, changes throughout the night, shifting from human diagrams during Between Two Lungs to twinkling stars throughout Cosmic Love and shimmering stained glass windows that give those of us at the back glimpses of the joy covering the 25-year-old singer's face. But the real focus tonight is on the magic being weaved beneath the structure. Additional percussion helps bulk out numbers like Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and Heartlines, yet it never overpowers the softer elements of the band's sound such as the gorgeous back-up vocals, the thoughtful guitar lines and the omnipresent harp. The eight-piece band are anything but mechanical, but it's all about Flo. She moves with the grace of a movie starlet, her figure-hugging bodysuit showing the tone of an athlete. Far more animated and outward than she was during her Splendour visit of 2010, every eye in the venue follows her skipping and pirouetting, while her vocal delivery empowers as much as it entertains. Finishing with the rousing Shake It Out and Dog Days Are Over before climaxing with a two-song encore featuring Never Let Me Go and No Light, No Light, the collective devotees depart as cheerfully and humbly as they arrived. There's vocalists, there's performers and then there are icons. Backed by her tireless machine, tonight Florence Welch shows herself to be one of the most transcendent figures currently working the stage.