Florence and the Machine galvanizes Phoenix

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Florence Welch performs at the Comerica Theatre, April 20, 2012. (Photo by Cheman Cuan)

Make no mistake about it: Florence Welch is a diva. Welch’s April 20 performance transcended beyond a musical set into an opera-esque drama.

Her emotions and movements swayed back and forth with the music as her genuine joy throughout the evening showed how truly happy she was to be onstage singing her self-written songs — all without ever putting shoes on.

Florence and the Machine stopped at Comerica Theatre Friday as part of a quick loop around the Southwest. After her headlining performance at Coachella last weekend, Welch and crew played several shows in the weeklong gap between both legs of the festival.

The British indie-pop band skyrocketed to fame in 2009 following its debut album “Lungs.” The critically acclaimed freshman performance earned them numerous accolades, including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

Their sophomore album, “Ceremonials,” picked up where “Lungs” left off, solidifying the band’s stardom.

With Phoenix being Welch’s first stop in Arizona, the crowd was both excited and apprehensive about the performance. If the sold-out crowd of 5,500 was any indication, fans came out in droves to witness the British singer and songwriter.

The crowd consisted of couples and families of all ages dominating the venue. Welch must have brought out eccentric style in her fans, as the audience was certainly dressed to impress.

After opener Blood Orange started the evening off, the fashionable crowd cheered immensely once Welch arrived onstage. She started with “Only If For A Night,” immediately capturing the audience’s attention.

She took the stage wearing a cape-like gown, proceeding to twirl and dance along with the music for the first few songs before eventually taking it off.

As Welch explored the space, running back and forth, concertgoers by the stage reached out for her, showing how just a touch would be a defining experience.

The tragic beauty in her songs completely captivated the crowd. A single spotlight followed the redheaded frontwoman in the song “Cosmic Love” as her fragile and delicate voice silenced the audience.

Just as the crowd was left as vulnerable as the lyrics in her songs, she then showed her versatility in songs like “Spectrum,” firing up the masses with her strong and powerful presence.

To perform a set as well as Welch did is difficult, but to complete it in front of a large audience can provide a  tougher challenge. This clearly is not an obstacle for Welch after her experience headlining Coachella. She connected with the audience by persuading men to raise women on their shoulders for “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).”

Describing herself as an English vampire, Welch joked about her pale complexion in the Arizona sun.

After receiving a five-minute standing ovation and overwhelming applause following her set, Welch returned to the stage for an encore performance. Starting with their cover of  “You Got the Love,” her vocals served as a prime example of her ability to transition from soft to powerful throughout the evening.

Closing her 90-minute set with the single “No Light, No Light” proved to be one of her most skillfully performed songs of the night. Welch played a single drum with a fierce intensity before eventually taking over vocals and leaving the audience more than satisfied.

The final line of her last song went, “Tell me what you want me to say,” and Welch expressed more than anything the audience could have ever asked for Friday night, leaving her exhilarated concertgoers with chills.

 

Reach the reporter at

mbobman@asu.edu

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