Florence and the Machine at Kool Haus, Toronto – Review and Photos

April 11, 2010

Gig/Concert: Florence and the Machine w/ Holy Hail
Venue: Kool Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 10 April 2010
In one word: Uplifting

Florence and the Machine at Kool Haus, Toronto, 10 April 2010 - photo by Brian Banks, Music Vice

“Let me tell you something. We’re in the middle of a tour and we’ve all been feeling really fucking tired… but YOU’VE FUCKING MADE IT ALL SO WORTH IT!” That was the declaration of Florence Welch, the star of Florence and the Machine, a statement she added to by saying that, “Honestly, this is why we do this and I’ve never said that ever before in my whole life.” These were not hollow words and they came near the end of a set which a Toronto crowd had given roaring support to throughout,  with many of the audience making heart signs with their hands, vocally and visually returning all the energy and love that was emitting from the stage.

This gig was uplifting to say the least. Touring takes its toll but I’m sure Florence and her band were not alone in feeling a bit weary at the start of the show – I myself arrived at this gig feeling less than okay after yet another attack of the Man Cold [see here], but by the end of the night my sinuses no longer felt like they were being held hostage, so not only can Florence and the Machine lift spirits but they can also be considered a cure for minor ailments. Huzzah!

Before I further extol the virtues of Florence and the Machine, a mention to opening act Holy Hail. Comprising of two girls and two guys, this New York band have been supporting Florence and the Machine throughout their North American tour. Holy Hail didn’t get much attention from the crowd and were rather snubbed with the kind of general disinterest commonly afforded to unknown support bands, but there were some moments in their set worthy enough of writing about. Much of Holy Hail’s set blurred together in hazy waves of drumming, riffing, singing and shouting – it was an enjoyable enough blur, if a little monotonous at times, and the whole set was over in half an hour. The standout moments were ones of eclecticism which were a bit different to the average electro-rock sound, including a good groove where the singer Cat stepped back to help out the drummer Jesse at the side of her kit, with Kevin the keyboardist taking over vocal duties which the guitarist Mike backed-up with some shouts.  Elsewhere a rather trippy chorus-effect driven riff revealed a more psychedelic influence and bled into a set-ending snippet of “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction. I’m not convinced about the absence of a bassist in the band and that might have been the missing element needed to tie everything together.

Returning to the main event, Florence and the Machine are certainly not short of a bassist, with The Machine also being replete with a harpist, keyboardist, guitarist and of course a drummer. Opening with “Howl”, the reception from the audience was good from the outset but it few songs before Florence really got into it. True concert synergy had been created between the artist and her fans by the fifth song “Between Two Lungs”, which was one of the best received songs of the night. Florence had been active from the outset, but by the mid-point of the set she was bounding across the stage with the exuberance of an artist being fully in the moment, with her fiery locks flailing and her arms orchestrating the ever-willing crowd.

This was a loud one, and also apparently a bit too dark on stage, a fact commented on by Florence when she went to reach for a glass of water and picked up a flower instead – the stage having been decorated with flowers (artificial I’m sure, to be reusable). But the stage wasn’t the only thing a bit dark, and as Florence put it, “Most of these songs are really sad but it’s you that make them joyous. Your reaction makes them enjoyable.”

Florence and the Machine’s debut album is called Lungs, and Florence owns a particularly extraordinary pair of these, a fact demonstrated when she held a note for about 40 seconds during “I’m Not Calling You A Liar (Ghosts)”. Florence told the audience that she’d screwed up this song on every date on the tour so far, but tonight she got it right. The flame-haired songstress was on fire, and for the encore she belted out “You’ve Got The Love” with every bit the drama of the album version plus some, then capped the night off with “Rabbit Heart”.

Tonight at the Kool Haus, Florence Welch delivered a performance befitting an artist who seems to be teetering on the brink of achieving global musical domination. The UK has already been won over and as for North America, well Florence and the Machine can at least be sure that they are loved in Toronto.

© Brian Banks, Music Vice

Kiss With a Fist
Hurricane Drunk
My Boy Builds Coffins
Between Two Lungs
Hardest of Hearts
Drumming Song
Cosmic Love
I’m Not Calling You A Liar (Ghosts)
Dog Days Are Over

You’ve Got the Love
Rabbit Heart

Pictures of Florence and the Machine at Kool Haus:

Related links:
Florence and the Machine review and photos – Hop Farm Festival 2009, Kent, England
Florence and the Machine – Official Website
Holy Hail – MySpace

Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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One Response to Florence and the Machine at Kool Haus, Toronto – Review and Photos

  1. Heats on June 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I really wish I had gone to see them…ahh retrospect.

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