As blades of trodden grass and four-day-hangover fingers shook still after her headline performance at Electric Picnic on Sunday, Florence Welch emerged on Thursday night at the 3Arena looking as fresh as a daisy. Clad like a 1970s Robert Plant, she pranced about the stage with the energy of a wide-eyed child, as her band followed her through banger-after-banger from her three album catalogue.
“She was so good, I’d happily go to see her again!” seemed to be the general consensus of those who had (seemingly correctly) chosen her over Tame Impala at the Picnic, as they looked towards her solo date in the capital. Unfortunately for them, many would not have the opportunity, as the show had sold out weeks in advance.
This made more sense on Thursday evening due to the overwhelming presence of die-hard ‘Machine-heads’ as we will henceforth refer to them. While the ones closest to the front received the most attention from the woman herself, flinging bras and even trousers at the stage, a special shout-out must go to the two girls whose enthusiasm embodied as unruly dancing and alcohol consumption in the middle row of the balcony became a nuisance for fellow audience members, Desperado purveyors and eventually security staff. They were asked to leave before the encore had come to an end. Bless their Rabbit Hearts.
Opening the set with What The Water Gave Me and Ship To Wreck – a song that will forever be emblazoned in the brains of anyone who turned on a radio in the weeks leading up to her Stradbally turn – it seemed she was setting herself up for an uphill battle. Such was the energy and euphoria with which these songs were met, as Florence ran the stage from end-to-end encouraging her fans to give as much as they were getting, it was hard to see this level being maintained for an extended period.
Perhaps though, that was an underestimation of Florence and her mass-production banger Machine. After a few soft-spoken words of appreciation, Shake It Out, Rabbit Heart and You’ve Got The Love get the audience singing along heartily, and one particular member of the audience wondering when the speeding car will come to a halt; “When can we stop jumping?!”.
Respite does come eventually, though in an unlikely form. One pluck of the harp strings signifies the arrival of Florence’s 2010 hit, Cosmic Love. But it does not get the triumphant, full-band treatment it once would have merited. Florence remains stationary for this one, putting the focus purely upon her vocals, which had been impeccable all night. It doesn’t work as well as a ballad, but hearing it like this is better than not hearing it at all.
The big, blue and beautiful Dog Days Are Over ends the set in a similar fashion to its beginning, with the audience’s eyes following barefooted Florence’s joyously restless movements about the stage.
Machine-head’s and those with a passing interest are left overwhelmed by a performance that barely seems to have broken a sweat upon the brow of the singer. As has been evidenced by her festival turns in Ireland and abroad this summer, this is just what she does. And boy, does she do it well.