A week ago, Botanic Park served as an enchanting setting for a flawless group of performers. We were gathered, by the hundreds, to see Florence + the Machine: the evening was pure and utter magic.
Before I dive into the perfection that was Florence + the Machine, I must elaborate on the curtain-raisers that set the foundations for everything wonderful to come. First up was the strapping Marlon Williams. Marlon appeared on stage in sports shorts matched with
high socks and dress shoes, making quite the first impression. One of my pals managed to describe him to a ‘T’: Marlon Williams, in music and persona, is a sweet, sweet combination of Elvis, with his hip movements saying it all, and San Cisco’s lead singer Jordi, with his cheeky, alternative vibe. Marlon’s blues and folk music is far from generic and a pleasure to listen to. Wowee, this New Zealander is one to add to your list
Next to the stage was Leon Bridges who brought with him enough swag to make the whole of Adelaide ooze with grooviness. His band, possibly the most attractive collective you will ever lay eyes on, were spectacular in accompanying the singer’s silky tones. This
soul artist, wearing the most fabulous pants I’ve seen in years, is huge in the US: Leon Bridges performed for some of his greatest fans, Michelle and Barack Obama, in their humble White House. I know in my music mix soul is severely underrepresented, and Leon successfully fills that void. Do yourself a favour and give this guy spin.
Now to the top spot, the shining star, the main attraction. Allow me to set the scene: Florence + the Machine. Botanic Park. A steamy summer night in January.
From the moment the barefoot goddess took to the stage, the audience were completely hers. Florence entered in the most dramatic and graceful fashion, slowly exposing herself from behind the wooden on-stage sets before belting out June from her new album High as Hope. As she pranced, lept and swirled across the stage, her immaculate vocals echoed out over Adelaide’s most spectacular park in clearer tones than heard on any recording. Florence wore a flowing, sheer, lavender dress that, along with the microphone, served as an extension of her body. The lighting design was exceptional and spotlights caught the red-haired beauty in a way that accentuated her presence and power.
Florence + the Machine was not a music concert, but an emotional event that demanded our participation. The night was filled with expressions of hope, love and change – expressions that this tender world needs at present. Florence revealed elements of herself, such as her shyness and her anxious tendencies, which made her more endearing and inviting than ever expected. The audience responded to her honesty, particularly in how they celebrated her music. Florence + the Machine’s recent hit single Hunger was belted with strength from every corner of the Park, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. South London Forever tinkered on heart strings and brought forth conversations relevant those who are lost and finding purpose. By the time we got to Dog Days, the crowd were moving powerfully as one. I had to remove my dangly earrings just so I could jump along and match the energy those around me. Throughout the night we were asked to hold hands with those around us, hug others, even strangers, and tell them we love them, and to put our phones away so we can have an ‘experience’. It was all intensely visceral, and as one of my friends so wonderfully expressed, Florence is more of a force than a woman.
During nights like these, there is always something bigger at play. If we learnt anything, it’s that Florence and the artists that joined her on stage signify the role art plays in this world. These individuals demonstrated how creativity and mediums such as music allow for connections that are missing in our sometimes fragmented world. If art makes life palatable, life was very, very tasty the night that Florence and her crew came to town.
Later that night, our humble city of Adelaide was the first Australian city to receive a thank you from Florence + the Machine on Instagram. Looks like they felt the love too.
Words and performance photos by Michelle Wakim.