Friday, June 24, 2011

Florence And The Machine

Florence Welch possesses a voice of such fullness and power than it has only taken a bit more than a year for people to stop trying to find comparisons to describe her and start using her as a reference for other singers. The Florence + The Machine frontwoman’s voice worked quite well in the open air of the Bank Of America Pavilion last night, gaining in size without losing its definition in front of a sold-out crowd.
Welch gave a visual feast as well as a sonic one. Her sheer yellow dress (complete with cape) rippled in the wind, and she seemed to make no nonpurposeful movements: either she flowed with deliberateness or made distinct actions — such as throwing her arm in the air or balling her fist — for specific emphasis. Unusual for a show at the Pavilion, there were no video screens projecting the action for the more distant seats, but it was hard to miss nonetheless.
Easier to overlook was the band behind Welch, which subtly but effectively let the singer to shine. Drummer Chris Hayden was especially invaluable, ratcheting up the tension by often avoiding his snare whenever possible. It resulted in a level of drama worthy of Kate Bush on “Cosmic Love,’’ the moody and driving new “What The Water Gave Me’’ and “Strangeness And Charm,’’ in which rumbling verses gave way to a chorus with an energized boost of tension that was never quite released.
Despite the darkness coursing through songs like those and “I’m Not Calling You A Liar’’ (which with its acoustic guitar and plucked, swinging harp was nearly a minor-key English folk ballad), the results were ultimately life-affirming. Welch herself was in high spirits, giving herself the giggles while getting the audience to repeatedly make lobster claws with their hands. And closer “Dog Days Are Over’’ sent the audience home on a wave of pure joy, as well as possibly the most identifiable harp part in rock history.
Opening band Twin Shadow combined synth wash, clipped but airy guitar, and disco beats into a danceable, if quickly exhausted, update of New Wave.