Some musicians play surroundings that not just suit their style or sound, but which amplify the emotion of a performance, and once you’ve seen a band in that kind of locale you’ll never be able to go back to just any old venue. Such is the case for tonight’s show: St John’s Church in Hackney, a stunning 18th century church in the middle of the city sprawl, serves as the evening’s venue.
It’s worth noting that it’s a charity show, with Florence + the Machine performing tonight on behalf of War Child, a charity which, as their name suggests, tries to protect and remove children from war zones around the world. This is the last of a series of special gigs as part of their Passport to the Brits week, featuring bands of varying styles doing intimate and unusual shows in a variety of unique venuesb from churches to front rooms.
Tonight’s show is acoustic, and that really only serves to magnify the tranquil and angelic music. There is no support – just Florence – and despite the extensive wait, when the band take to the stage in their elegant manner, all is forgiven (we are in a church after all).
Opening with the glorious “Cosmic Love“ and moving through a set of new songs juxtaposed with the old, nothing feels out of place: “St. Jude” and “Third Eye” feel completely at home with “Drumming Song” slotted in between.
Florence Welch is everything you could ever hope for in a frontwoman; her gracious and effortless elegance, paired with her soaring and powerfully unique voice, makes for something memorable. This hometown show is not just unique because of the venue but with her family in attendance this has to be special and the pressure is on to impress. Florence’s performance is powerful and delicate with her voice filling every expanse of this impressive venue.
The very concept of certain bands having their songs covered is preposterous and Fleetwood Mac are one of those bands, but Florence + The Machine give their talents to a charming rendition of “Silver Springs” that is pure gold, and brings a slightly different change of pace to the proceedings. They then bring out the big guns for a final blast of sound: a double hit of “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days Are Over” bringing the crowd into motion. “Shake It Out” leads into a massive choral singalong at the request of Flo, and although they couldn’t bring a choir, they rely on the crownd to fill the void – and fill that void we do.
“Dog Days Are Over“ closes the show. Whether in its stripped back form like tonight, or in all its glory, it always ultimately leads to dancing. With no-one in the crowd standing still, it’s the perfect end to a perfect set. Florence + The Machine are at the top of their game right now. This continued success can only be a testament to the power that British music has around the world and the talent this island cultivates. Tonight’s show was special in more ways than one, but after seeing it in this venue, no other will do.