Last night Michael and I saw Florence and the Machine at the O2 Arena. A Guardian reviewer only gave it 2 stars today but I can only disagree with his conclusions and report that the gig was wonderful. Florence herself has great stage presence and her voice is one of the best I have heard live. Each note carried throughout the arena flawlessly. Florence's presence is majestic and what is striking is the level of respect she has for her own music. That may be a weird thing to say as I am sure most artists respect their musical creations but the way Florence and the Machine ensure that their performance of each song reaches a state of sheer bliss and ecstasy is unique.
Florence loses herself in the words and chords, striking mystical poses to separate her, the performer, from the audience watching a magical spectacle. This artistic barrier was reinforced by Florence's almost regal gesticulation, stretching her limbs to form statute-like figures, to interact with the spectators. As an audience we respected her and the lack of verbal interaction for the first third of the set left us in awe.
Florence is a brilliant front-woman but each member of her band and the orchestra was indispensable also. The stand out songs for me were "Only if for a night", "Shake it out" and "No Light No Light".
We were also told of Florence's last visit to the O2...back when it was the Millenium Dome and on a school trip! Although the aforementioned barrier was broken slightly as Florence revealed little anecdotes, including another about the relevance of "Shake it out" (a song about a hangover), she was still a fairy to us, floating from one side of the stage to the other, jumping and spinning all set.
Oh and her outfit was beautiful!