Florence and the Machine Treat Orlando To Upbeat Celebration Of Love in Orlando (SHOW REVIEW)

On a soggy night in Orlando on June 8th, Florence and the Machine treated the crowd at the Amway Center to an upbeat celebration of love. Fifteen-year-old singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal opened the night with her unique brand of folk-pop. VanderWaal, the 2016 winner of “America’s Got Talent” impressed the early arrivers with a set of songs from her 2017 debut album Just the Beginning. VanderWaal gave an energetic performance, singing and playing ukulele over pulsing pop beats.

VanderWaal’s lively performance offered just a glimpse of what was to come. Florence Welch took the stage flanked by an eight-piece band and began the set with a slow, brooding rendition of “June,” Welch showcasing her thick, weighty croon. The band then launched into “Hunger,” with Welch sprinting back and forth on the large arena stage, dancing, twirling, and thrashing about while somehow still singing in key. With the exception of a couple slow numbers, Welch and company kept that energy throughout the set.

Between songs, Welch told stories, gave hints as to the origins of some of the songs, and encouraged activism. She introduced “Patricia” by saying it’s dedicated to a lost loved one, but then also added that it’s a song about “toxic masculinity.” During an interlude in a raucous performance of “Dog Days Are Over,” while the band continued to play Welch encouraged the crowd to turn to a stranger near them and tell them they love them. Then she said she would “ask you to do something really weird, but you have to trust me.” After nervous cheers from the crowd, Welch pleaded for everyone to “put your phones away and just be in the moment.” The crowd did as asked and then jumped and danced along with the rest of the song with an added passion.

Welch’s distinct soulful contralto voice stood out, especially during several a capella moments. Meanwhile, the Machine laid down complex indie compositions, combining chamber pop, folk, rock, and more. Infectious pounding rhythms from drummer Loren Humphrey and percussionist Aku Orraca-Tetteh shared the soundscape with ethereal harp and distorted guitars, creating a unique sonic tapestry. The set leaned heavily on 2018’s High as Hope, but featured songs from each album, including three from 2009 debut Lungs.

Welch showed a natural charisma, dancing across the stage and showing appreciation for the crowd. During “You’ve Got the Love,” Welch took a rainbow flag from someone in the first row and waved it across the stage. During the performance of “Delilah,” Welch jumped down from the stage and sprinted to the back of the arena floor, giving front-row access to those who were standing in the back before slowly walking back to the stage through the crowd. Florence + the Machine ended the regular set with one of its heaviest songs, the rocker “What Kind of Man.” Welch sang that song from the photo pit, leaning into the first few rows of people while crooning and headbanging.

For the encore, the band returned to the stage and began with the slow, soft “No Choir” before transitioning into the midtempo “Big God.” Ending the night on a high note, Welch led the crowd on a sing along with hit power ballad “Shake It Out.” It was a show that highlighted the strengths of Florence + the Machine, showcasing Welch’s show-stopping charisma, her soulful vocals, and the band’s eclectic and intricate compositions.     

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