Friday, December 9, 2011

Florence & the Machine, Live at WaMu Theater, Seattle, Dec 8, 2011

Because I tend to have that human need to categorize everything in order to understand it, I’ve been trying to figure out how to categorize Florence & the Machine, who we saw perform last night at WaMU Theater in Seattle. The phrases “goth Motown” and “gospel for sinners” keep popping in my head, and so I’m sticking with them. On the surface, I guess you’d call this music “pop.” Maybe “alternative pop.” If that’s the case, then I am grateful that pop music today can include harp and the occasional bit of tribal drumming and chanting. TIME Magazine just voted her song "No Light, No Light" Song of the Year. Here it is performed on SNL:

If you can get past the occasionally flat, yell-iness of Florence’s voice, you’ll be delighted with her power, range and creativity. With multi-layered vocal stylings (performed live with the help of backup singers) and the charisma of a shaman, Florence belts out the tunes with a flourish of arms and the occasional twirl around the stage. It did seem to take her a few songs to really get her game face on, and occasionally we were certain that she was zoning out and thinking about something completely unrelated to performing the song. But those were minor sins in a concert that seemed to promise a kind of salvation for the believers.

The background décor was some of the most appropriate I’ve seen in a while. Of course nothing can touch what Jónsi did on his last tour. But I really enjoyed the five tall fabric panels that looked like stained glass windows in the cathedral of Florence’s musical rapture. With a change of lighting, they magically morphed into primal human forms. It perfectly captured the essence of her latest album: a glorious, primal mix of ritual, praise and enthusiasm.

Clearly there's no video of the show up online yet, but here's something from this tour, at least: