Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How Beautiful Tour | Florence + the Machine with Of Monsters and Men

There are a multitude of terms that can be used to describe Florence Welch: Maximalist, loud, genius, the queen of the music festival circuit... But based on what she did on stage at Cleveland's Blossom Music Center on Saturday, I'm going to go ahead and say she's just damn near perfect.

Although her voice is a good chunk of what makes her so great, do I really need to talk about it? If you're here to read a review of her show, chances are that you probably already know that the human vocal powerhouse that is Florence Welch can be matched by so few. I had joked for months leading up to the gig that I expected to be deafened by her projection. Long story made short: I was... or at the very least, I sustained a bit of hearing damage. And I'm 100% okay with that. Her highest belts were awarded by screams loud enough to drown her out, which probably didn't help out the eardrum damage. Still worth it.

But don't think she's all vocals and no fun: she's top festival billing for a reason. She galloped from end to end of that stage more times than I could count, at one point bolting from the main stage to a small platform mid-amphitheater (and still nailing the vocals after running a small marathon to get there, mind you). On the cinematic, medieval-chic instrumental sprawls of some tracks, she hung up the microphone and threw herself around like a rag doll with contemporary choreography from The Odyssey film. And per tradition, she asked fans to climb on shoulders of others for "Rabbit Heart" (it didn't work so hot in the tight confinements of a seated venue, as opposed to her typical standing festival setting) and insisted we each take off an article of clothing and wave it like a flag in the heart of "Dog Days Are Over" (this direction, meanwhile, was listened to quite obediently). 

It rained through most of the show, quite fittingly for Florence -- we all know how much she fancies water -- but that didn't stop the folks on the grass slopes from watching in awe; most of them watched the entirety of the show from underneath a field of umbrellas. After all, a good majority of us were well committed, having followed Florence since the Lungs days. (After she inquired how many people were three albums deep in fandom, she ensured the newcomers that most everything is nearly the same: "I'm a little more drunk and shouty.") Those of us under the pavilion roof whose hands were free, though, spent most of our time with our hands in the air, returning Florence's welcoming reaches towards the crowd and clapping as long and as hard as possible.

While opening act Of Monsters & Men's set list seemed to drag on for ages (buried in their 11 tracks were only two tracks of real note, one being the band's breakthrough hit "Little Talks"), Florence's 16-track set seemed as if it went by in a flash. In that flash, however, a lot of memories were made: singing back-up with the rest of the audience for "Shake It Off," watching a guy get tackled by security as he ran on stage to dance with Florence during "Spectrum," and channeling her rage in the midst of "What Kind of Man." I left the premises that night tired and sweaty, but those facts were overshadowed by my beaming happiness from the show. She put her all into this performance, resulting in something quite stunning. How beautiful, indeed.

The How Beautiful Tour makes stops across North America until the beginning of July.

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