Florence + The Machine in Boston

Matthew Shelter on July 7, 2011

Photo by Matthew Shelter

Florence + The Machine
Bank of America Pavilion
Boston, MA
June 23

Alighting in Boston on a damp and cool Friday night, Florence + The Machine’s 2011 summer tour managed to heat the open-air Bank of America Pavilion to a temperature approaching that of the sun with a fiery 14-song set before a wildly enthusiastic sell-out crowd.

The show opened with songstress Florence Welch and her impeccable five-member backing band obscured by an enormous gauzy black curtain draped from the ceiling at the front of the stage. As the band launched into “My Boy Builds Coffins” from FATM’s 2009 Lungs album, the curtain dropped to reveal Welch swirling across the stage in a striking diaphanous yellow gown, and the 5,000+ in attendance were on their feet never to sit down again.

The night leaned heavily on material from Lungs, the only full-length album Welch has released to date. A new album is in the works, two songs of which she previewed for the Boston crowd: “What the Water Gave Me” and “Bedroom Hymns” . Both were well-received – no one heading off to the restrooms or concession stands – and fit well within the enchanting, percussive sweet spot she found for herself on her debut album.

Covering nearly all the tracks from Lungs ( “Kiss From a Fist” being the only notable absence), Welch used the entire stage to great effect. While singing, she seems almost in a trance, and between verses dashes about the stage like a forest sprite. At times it was almost like watching some kind of indie-rock ballet – although no ballet I’ve ever seen included a performer who could simultaneously dance, sing and pound a drum with the ferocity that Welch did on the aptly named “Drumming Song,” one of the early highlights of the show. Another highlight was “Cosmic Love,” one of the strongest tracks on Lungs and clearly a crowd favorite. Before a backdrop that was transformed into a bright starry night sky, Welch and the band tore through the song with such pulse-pounding fury that it literally knocked a 20-something male fan off his seat near me (although alcohol may also have been involved).

Welch told the crowd it was “the biggest show we’ve ever done” – although it’s hard to believe she has not played for a larger audience than 5,000 at some point. Her voice, which is simply stunning in live performance, could likely fill an arena five times the size of Boston’s waterfront pavilion. Highly recommend catching Florence + The Machine if they come anywhere near where you live this summer.