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Florence and the Machine deliver energized and charming performance

Brandy Cerne | Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sometimes it seems like the Brits have all of the musical talent these days. This can be frustrating to any fan because of the shortage of stateside performances. Luckily, Florence and the Machine, one of the most promising musical acts of the moment, graced Chicago with its presence Monday night.
Even after buying my tickets only a few weeks before the show and getting the last available at the cheapest price, I somehow got box seats that looked right over the stage. The House of Blues was a perfect venue for the concert. Its smaller size led to an intimate atmosphere, as every seat was close to the stage.
It truly felt like everyone there recognized the talent of lead singer Florence Welch and connected with her music. The crowd was young and full of energy, with the exception of the strange sightings of several male concert-goers well into their 50s. Who said good taste has an age limit?
Florence and the Machine is a five-member band, but lead singer Florence Welch is undeniably the main attraction. Florence opened the show with “Howl,” and howl she did, but only in the best sense of the word. Listening to recordings of her songs, it is clear she has a strong voice, but it is even more powerful live. The combination of her expressive voice, extravagant outfit and electric stage presence were the perfect addition to her already passionate songs.
Clad in a black lace cape and fedora and going barefoot for most of the show, her look was definitely eccentric, but this Victorian gothic style enhanced the performance. Florence’s songs so easily get under your skin with their raw lyrics and sound. On stage, many of the songs would start with dim lights and just a couple flicks of Florence’s wrists in the spotlight to the beat of the drum. She even sung “Blinding” with her cape pulled over her head. All of this could have come off as extremely weird, but it just all worked.
Florence herself was extremely charming, thanking the audience several times and acknowledging the many calls and compliments from the audience, one of my favorites being, “Florence, you have beautiful feet!”
She involved the audience two times, which made everyone feel able to interact with the show. During “Dog Days Are Over,” which has gained deserved attention recently after being used in several television shows and in the trailer for “Eat, Pray, Love,” Florence had the audience jump at the same time, which actually made the ground shake. When singing “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up),” the crowd was asked to yell the refrain of “Raise It Up” at different points.
Florence ended the show with that performance after singing all the songs from her album “Lungs,” as well as a lesser-known track from her box set, “Hardest of Hearts.” One of the audience favorites was the soulful cover of “You’ve Got the Love.”
I had to drag a friend along to the show who did not like Florence and the Machine before. But after this entertaining and charged concert even she was won over, which is a testament to Florence’s live presence.
Florence’s talent should continue to be recognized as more people appreciate her incredible voice and songs. At just the start of her career, she has plenty more to offer with her unique and charming style. The often-eerie mood and Florence’s wailing voice (again, in the best sense of the word) surely left concertgoers with a performance to remember.