Florence & The Machine, St. Philips Church, Salford, Monday 1st June 2009.
It is sometimes interesting to go and see a band of which you know very little, as, without carrying any preconceptions or media baggage, it gives a blank canvas on which to overlay ones prejudices. Within five minutes of Florence & The Machine taking the stage, I had them tagged as media-friendly goth-lite, with a wilfully eccentric edge. Mid-period Banshee wannabees. Florence has a cracking pair of lungs, but strip away the harp, and the androgynous numanoid keyboard/violin, and it’s a pretty drab standard rock backing, and I was reminded of other famous-for-15-minutes bands featuring “charismatic” female vocalists (Curve, All About Eve, etc…). Also, the church venue doesn’t lend itself to amplified rock music. Whereas the natural echo enhances the sparse acoustics of (for example) Laura Marling, here it creates an aural sludge where the only winners are the drums and Florence’s voice. In-between song twee chat referencing coffins, death and other goth leitmotifs, as well as casual nods to the Hacienda and the Mondays don’t help. And yet…following an instantly forgettable final number, they returned for an encore, and played ‘Blinding’. Maybe it was the setting sun, maybe it was the atmosphere, but suddenly it all worked, and for 5 spellbinding (Oo-err, lazy journo Banshee’s reference) minutes I was transfixed. Only for the mood to be dispelled by a turgid version of The Source’s none-too-originally inspiring ‘You got the love’.
I await their appearance on a Banshee’s tribute compilation. I’d like to hear their take on ‘Overground’…
Review by Big Dave