MusicReview

Florence + The Machine Grace the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

Tessa Roy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Editor

Florence + The Machine performing at Bonnaroo. Photo via Florence + The Machine Facebook page.
Florence + The Machine performing at Bonnaroo. Photo via Florence + The Machine’s Facebook page.

The new How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful era of Florence + The Machine, the first after a difficult four year hiatus, is inspired by creating beauty out of brokenness. The album’s lyrics are drawn from past “brokenness,” making it somewhat devastating. But its “beauty” comes from its raw presentation of emotion. Such a catharsis is a way of reaching out to others who feel similar pain and, perhaps more importantly, is a way of regaining strength before getting back on one’s feet.

In the past few weeks, the latter has been true in a literal sense for Florence Welch, the fiery frontwoman of Florence + The Machine. Welch broke her foot after leaping off her Coachella stage in April and, to her dismay, was confined to a stool for many of her subsequent performances. She no longer had to sit still by the time her June gigs rolled around, the “brokenness” of her foot apparently healed. The singer and her machine recently stopped in Boston, and “beauty” is not a sufficient description of what they brought to the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion stage.

From the moment she began her set with “What the Water Gave Me” (apt considering the pavilion is surrounded by the water of the Boston Harbor), Welch took full advantage of her renewed ability to use both feet. Her long red tresses whipped around her as she spanned every inch of the stage, reveling in her liberation. At times, she sprinted through the aisles or disappeared into the crowd. Heads turned as fans at both ends of the pavilion craned to watch her every move.

“Hi Boston,” Welch said with a smile, her speaking voice much gentler than the one she uses to sing. She was greeted in kind with a flower crown from someone in the front. She happily placed it on her head, a goddess accepting the gift of her worshippers. Two special worshippers were invited onstage for hugs, but Welch tried not to be exclusive. “I’m hugging you all spiritually!” she giggled, arms outstretched.

The audience remained uplifted by Welch’s “spiritual” embrace. They danced with her through “Shake it Out,” “Delilah,” and “Queen of Peace.” Bursts of jubilance rippled through the pavilion for “Spectrum” and, of course, “Dog Days are Over.” Countless voices filled the air, but none stood out more than Welch’s. The soaring voice she is known for was at its best, inducing goosebumps and even a few tears. There was no limit to what Welch could do with it – she could go from hitting nerves with a gentle wisp to summoning the heavens with a resounding belt in an instant. It is a privilege to hear any performer sing, but hearing Welch is a blessing.

The set finished with “Kiss With a Fist,” the song that signifies “where it all began” for Florence + The Machine. As people filed out, reminiscent smiles illuminated faces. The song was a reminder of what had been there since the beginning of the band’s time. While Welch spent some time being broken, the connection she has with both her band and her fans did not. Therein lies the beauty.

Check out more tour dates for Florence + The Machine here.

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