As the minute of their advertised start time struck, ‘The Machine’, a band of eight musicians, took to their many positions on their elegantly designed, art-deco inspired stage. Florence was yet to be seen.
The opening soul-driven number “Only If For A Night” triggered a silhouette of the band’s heroine from behind part of their stage and was naturally met with deafening cheers. For tonight, the steel coliseum that is the Sydney Entertainment Centre would be transformed into the most intimate of heavenly structures.
Having been to a number of events at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in the previous months, this was the most packed I had seen the venue in quite some time, real estate was scarce and with good reason.
Filled to the rafters, the Sydney crowd let the Brits know how much they were adored. The first few songs mostly saw Ms. Welch stand still in the centre of the stage adorned in a long gown. Like a goddess, she gestured slowly to the crowd only so often. She was graceful in every sense, and even with a well-rehearsed band and brilliantly synced light show, her voice was second-to-none.
An anonymous voice of truth was overheard at one point saying, “this is the first concert I’ve been to where the band has sounded perfect, exactly what their albums sound like”. It was impressive at how pitch-perfect each line was, and even then, they were infused with more passion and drama as Florence skipped the length of the stage.
Though a 10, 000 seat arena doesn’t immediately feel homely, the singer’s breath-catching chats between songs were entertaining. From reading name after name of fans who compiled letters to the band (and gifting a bottle of gin that harpist Tom Monger apparently drank before the show) to Emily, a 9-year-old girl who managed to sneak behind Florence back onto the stage after a crowd visit, the bands interactions were personal.
A commanding front-woman of encompassing delight and grandeur, Florence – never breathless – stormed through hit after hit to send the crowd home happy. “Shake It Out”, “Dog Days Are Over”, “Never Let Me Go” and “No Light, No Light” were a successful medley of songs that perfectly highlighted the depths and returns to euphoric bliss that only Florence and the Machine are capable of.
When the night finished, they had played for almost exactly ninety minutes and with the exact same setlist as the previous month of shows. Perhaps only to a reviewer did the show now seem too rehearsed; but after their electrifying set, perhaps more – or indeed an alternating set of songs, would have certainly been welcomed.