Live Review: Florence & The Machine, Blood Orange - Sydney Entertainment Centre

28 May 2012 | 8:09 pm | Robert Townsend

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Dev Hynes, formerly of Test Icicles and Lightspeed Champion fame, got the evening underway as his new incarnation, Blood Orange. His vocal at times nodded to Michael Jackson at his softest, combining with a backing track that was heavily leaning towards '80s electronica with some serious guitar riffage. Impressive as his set was, onstage with just a laptop for company, he was a little swallowed up by the cavernous room.

When Florence & The Machine took to the stage in Sydney at the end of last year, they did so in front of a few hundred lucky punters at The Seymour Centre, with Florence Welch elegantly attired in evening-wear on what was an incredibly intimate night. This was an altogether different beast. In front of thousands of screaming fans at the Entertainment Centre, Welch – dressed amazingly in an epic, sequin-shoulder-padded black cape, like some kind of gothic Cruella De Vil matador – whirled and bounced around the huge stage with gusto and let loose that lung-busting vocal while her eight-piece band bashed out the hits.

With cape soon shed, she showcased her powerful voice especially well over the interestingly pared-back instrumentation of You've Got The Love, while other songs like Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and What The Water Gave Me demonstrated the quiet verse/big chorus dynamic that works so well.

Audience participation was at the forefront of Welch's mind. Within minutes, she insisted everyone was on their feet – or on the shoulders of a loved one – and conducted singalongs and a dance contest (won by a desperately cute little girl who then made an impromptu appearance on stage). The way she took the time to personally thank individual fans for their support showed her to be a sweet, genuine woman who really gives a shit about the people who buy her records.

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Before the inevitable encore came to a climax with No Light, No Light, Welch had the crowd going absolutely apeshit with Dog Days Are Over and, in doing so, proved that even a venue the size of the Entertainment Centre isn't big enough to contain that massive voice and personality.