Florence & The Machine @ Manchester Arena – 15/03/12

Usually when I have man flu I have to force myself to get anything done. But tonight nothing would stop me from seeing Florence & The Machine!

As Florence’s band The Machine walked on stage many also cheered for Isabella the keyboardist. Isabella has also helped co-write many of the songs on the award winning album Lungs as well as the latest album Ceremonials.

With a massive art deco like screen for a backdrop and two gigantic monitors either side of the stage keeping in style, Florence elegantly walked onto the stage wearing a massive black cape with gold. The opening song ‘Only If For A Night’ was met with huge screams from the audience followed by ‘What The Water Gave Me’.

Florence was putting on a very theatrical show as a display of projections were conveyed across the art deco screens and double exposures on the two monitors either side.

Florence prances around the stage shoeless almost performing some gymnastics. As she sings ‘Between Two Lungs’ and ‘Cosmic Love’ from her debut album ‘Lungs’  which Florence described the album in three words ‘Catastrophe, Choir, Crash’ the first time I interviewed her. Florence warps herself in her cape like a chrysalis raising her cape up as if she was a butterfly that had just hatched.

Apparently the last time she was in Manchester she supported Blur as Florence says she only had a tiny area of the stage twirling around in a circle to illustrate how much space she had. But this time Florence and her band had the full stage tonight which she made good use of. Backed up by three singers they really helped out during some of the choruses but Florence’s vocals alone were empowering enough beaming across every inch of the arena.

The Cameras zoomed in on the harpist as he ferociously plucks at the strings as well as Isabella playing on the keyboard giving them plenty of exposure not to give Florence all of the credit. Florence tries to get the audience jumping with her during ‘Dog Days Are Over’ turning the entire arena into one big mosh pit, I’m glad I wasn’t in the standing area!

After a phenomenal performance of ‘Breaking Down’ and ‘Leave My Body’ Florence shouts out to the audience ‘if you are here with a girl you love too, lift her on your shoulders!’ After Flo counted out how many people she could see raised up on someone’s shoulders she says she is going to play a song called ‘Rabbit Heart’ (Raise it up) which is one of my favourites from her debut album. The huge art deco screens turned to stained glass displays as she spins around on the stage the audience sings along with her clapping and jumping.

The crowd still ecstatic all the way through as Florence sings ‘No Light, No Light’ and ‘Spectrum’ an epic drum beating song which left my ears ringing. As the band left the stage for a brief moment the crowd demanded an encore stomping their feet on the arena floor and shouting for Flo. Of course we all knew they were going to come back on stage. With an emotional end to the night I’m sure some people had a tear in their eye as Florence sang us out with ‘Never Let Me Go’.

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