British indie pop sensation Florence and The Machine have had nothing but success since their debut album Lungs dropped in 2009. Orchestrating an angelically powerful blend of disco-pop with indie power-ballads, the band has won countless awards (and a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist) launching frontwoman Florence Welch to stardom. And rightfully so, at Deer Lake Park on Friday night the redheaded, model-perfect Brit proved she is talented beyond the hype.
Burnaby’s outdoor field filled rapidly as Florence look-a-likes in big hats and antique dresses linked arms with their friends the took over the grassy venue. The crowd was a healthy mix of college kids drunk on their home-made cocktails disguised in plastic containers and children who had clearly begged their parents to come along for the ride. The air quickly filled with the smell of pot as girls sang Florence hits into one another’s smiling faces.
New York-based indie outfit The Walkmen opened the show (which was the first night of a full North American tour for both acts). Dressed in messy yet fashionable black suits as if they were attending James Franco’s wedding, the indie-pop veterans ticked through a steady set.
Drummer Matt Barrick abruptly walked off stage after a few songs clutching his allegedly injured cymbal, but The Walkmen had enough drumless tunes to keep the set going. They played songs like “Love is Luck” and “138th Street” to a relatively uninterested crowd but when they blasted into their 2004 hit “The Rat”, even the tag-along mom’s were stomping their feet and shaking in their yoga pants.
After a quick vacuum of the stage and a gaggle of sound technicians who set up two drum kits, a harp, and numerous guitars among other instruments, the Machine took the stage. The crowd swarmed inward, screaming with excitement and raising their android phones in anticipation of Welch’s entrance to the stained glass-inspired cathedral that was glowing amber behind the stage.
Welch glided out in a azure Maxi dress, her porcelain skin creating contrast to her gown and signature auburn hair. Plowing into hits “What The Water Gave Me” and “Cosmic Love”, Welch and her childlike charm captivated the entire landscape. Her voice was celestial; a powerful force that charged forward into the sea of fans below her.
As she sang and spun in circles, her hands following her flowing dress, you could almost imagine an eight-year-old Welch practising this same move in her childhood bedroom mirror. She jokingly commanded the crowd to perform “human sacrifice” before blasting into “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” and “Shake It Out”. Then, in a quieter moment when the cathedral lights had turned into a deep, glowing red, the songstress talked about losing her voice—news that was covered in every music magazine as though it was a natural disaster.
When she stood still behind the microphone stand, her dress Monroe-ing behind her, she looked like a siren statue at the front of a ship and her band was the boat, powering her through the sea of people before her.
“I lost my voice for a while, but it seems like it’s back,” she cooed humbly before blasting into “Heart Lines”, “Leave My Body”, and “Seven Devils” with dexterity and force.
When she played her pop-perfect hit, “Dog Days Are Over” to close the set, the audience turned to a screaming ocean of mush.
Of course, the British siren was summoned for an encore, which she gladly granted. The sea finally parted when the sky grew dark leaving a litter of plastic cups and roaches in Welch’s ocean.