At the Commodore on Wednesday, April 14
Right near the end of her debut Vancouver performance, flame-haired dynamo Florence Welch noted that, sometimes, finding the right chemistry can be difficult on a first date. If you were paying even the slightest bit of attention to what had transpired up to that point, you might have accused her of being more than a little disingenuous. Vancouver didn’t just fall for her on Wednesday, it fell hard.
At least she had a semi-good reason for bringing up the connection issue. Getting 900 delirious disciples to jump for the heavens all at once can be a daunting task, and Welch wasn’t able to orchestrate things to her liking the first time she tried. The second time—this coming in the middle of the mass sing-along that was “Dog Days Are Over”—was the charm, though; if there was any doubt that the 23-year-old Londoner and her fans were on the same page, it was erased when everyone suddenly took flight as one, coming back to earth with mile-wide grins plastered on their faces.
As first hookups go, this one couldn’t have gone any more brilliantly.
And even if Welch had her own doubts, it was pretty obvious there was a special connection between Florence and the Machine and Vancouver right from the start. Backed by a five-piece band—including a dude playing a massive harp that would have got Joanna Newsom all hot and bothered—the U.K.’s current It Girl arrived ready to dazzle, strutting out on giant gold platforms, her skin-tight black jumpsuit offset by a Queen Cleopatra silver headdress.
If that makes the night sound about as classy as a gift certificate to Topshop, rest assured that the on-stage floral arrangements gave the proceedings a decidedly upscale atmosphere.
The crowd was on board from the start, singing along right from the opening notes of “Howl”, a song that found Welch pounding on a flower-covered floor tom placed front and centre on the stage. By the second song, one hopelessly smitten dude had already fired a full bouquet from the front row.
It was no surprise that he—and everyone else in the room—was enraptured. Welch hasn’t entirely found her own voice—no great surprise considering that she’s only one album into her career. But her songs—and her stage moves—make one think that she’s at least decided to take her cues from some heavy, heavy hitters. Here’s wagering she spent a good deal of her tortured youth studying the collected videos of Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, and—given her penchant for scarf-twirling—Stevie Nicks.
The night kicked into high gear when Welch removed her platforms, at which point she began stalking the Commodore stage like a possessed, red-haired wraith. At various times in the night, she was evidently—and mesmerizingly—lost in her own little world, whipping herself into a fine frenzy in one spot as the band brought the baroque-pop thunder around her.
And best of all, she wasn’t alone. From the way that the crowd sang along en masse to standouts like “Between Two Lungs” and, of course, “Dog Days Are Over”, you’d have thought that you were at Wembley Stadium, having the time of your life on a date that couldn’t possibly be going better.
Welch made a point of saying that she loved Vancouver, managing the difficult task of sounding totally sincere. If you were lucky enough to find yourself in the Commodore on this night, you know the feeling was completely and totally mutual.
Kristy Strang photo.