Gig/Concert: Florence and the Machine w/ Holy Hail
Venue: Kool Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 10 April 2010
In one word: Uplifting
â€śLet me tell you something. Weâ€™re in the middle of a tour and weâ€™ve all been feeling really fucking tired… but YOUâ€™VE FUCKING MADE IT ALL SO WORTH IT!â€ť That was the declaration of Florence Welch, the star of Florence and the Machine, a statement she added to by saying that, â€śHonestly, this is why we do this and Iâ€™ve never said that ever before in my whole life.â€ť These were not hollow words and they came near the end of a set which a Toronto crowd had given roaring support to throughout,Â 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 Iâ€™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 didnâ€™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 Hailâ€™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.Â Elsewhere a rather trippy chorus-effect driven riff revealed a more psychedelic influence and bled into a set-ending snippet of â€śJane Saysâ€ť by Janeâ€™s Addiction. Iâ€™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 â€śHowlâ€ť, 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 â€śBetween Two Lungsâ€ť, 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 wasnâ€™t the only thing a bit dark, and as Florence put it, â€śMost of these songs are really sad but itâ€™s you that make them joyous. Your reaction makes them enjoyable.â€ť
Florence and the Machineâ€™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 â€śIâ€™m Not Calling You A Liar (Ghosts)â€ť. Florence told the audience that sheâ€™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 â€śYouâ€™ve Got The Loveâ€ť with every bit the drama of the album version plus some, then capped the night off with â€śRabbit Heartâ€ť.
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.
Â© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Kiss With a Fist
My Boy Builds Coffins
Between Two Lungs
Hardest of Hearts
Iâ€™m Not Calling You A Liar (Ghosts)
Dog Days Are Over
Youâ€™ve Got the Love
Pictures of Florence and the Machine at Kool Haus: