Florence + The Machine at 3Arena, Dublin on Monday 19 November 2018
“Who are ‘The Machine’ though?” A question that dogged Florence Welch in the early stages of her career, as if the woman couldn’t be anything beyond the band holding her up.
On the High As Hope tour, the question seems even sillier as she dons the cap of all past personas; the Florences associated with each individual album cycle. In between summoning the most guttural sounds from the depths of her being, she pirouettes maniacally across the 70s-esque TV set stage, before talking about her book club (cleverly titled ‘Between Two Books’), and the power of compassion. There is a marked difference between the old and the new, though thankfully not in terms of quality.
“I know it probably doesn’t seem it, with the singing and the twirling, but I’m actually shy,” she says.
Florence + The Machine is all about the experience: she politely asks people to put away their phones during Dog Days, encouraging others to do the same. It’s a shared experience – her shit-eating, self-assured grin during Between Two Lungs backs this theory up. It’s as much for her to enjoy as it is the fans.
Whether she realises it or not, her song Patricia and its rallying lyrics – “I believe her/I believe her/I believe her” – take on a whole new meaning for an Irish crowd. It seems apt that a battle cry, which verses attempt to take down toxic masculinity, can also now be associated with a movement in support of the women of Ireland.
That’s not the end of the rebel rousing, mind. Upon hearing it in a live setting, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Queen Of Peace’s riotous melody for some kind of sports chant. How it doesn’t sound out of place on a set list about paranormal encounters and drunken London nights is baffling, to say the least.
Florence + The Machine is Jekyll and Hyde. She is the rockstar, the frontwoman, the hedgerow witch, the lost fairy all at once. She is the woman who speaks softly on her belief in human kindness; the woman who initially cowers at the noise level which greets her at the 3Arena.
And yet, she is also the voice that probably requires no amplification in said venue; the one who sprints freely through a crowd without missing a note. The one who delivers snarls and snaps between choreography one could only describe as being inspired by exorcisms.
How can they be separate entities – Florence simply is the machine.