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Review: Florence + The Machine at the Lawn at White River

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Florence + The Machine, The Walkmen
Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park
Sunday, July 29

I'm convinced Florence Welch is a Celtic goddess.

The lead singer of Florence + The Machine pranced barefoot across the stage, twirling her hands and arms as her crown of red hair offset her sweeping indigo dress that could have easily been a robe worn by a fairy-tale enchantress. Her singing voice sounded almost unearthly, like the luring call of a siren from Greek mythology, while her lilting speaking voice possessed its own power of drawing people in - she had complete control over the crowd, and kept us spellbound. Add to that the mystical instrumental background, her joking line "All I ask for in return is a few human sacrifices," and song lyrics like "I've seen it in the flights of birds, the entrails of animals" (which allude to old forms of divination) from the song "Heartlines," whose title is a reference to palm reading, and you can see how I was so easily persuaded.

I only wish that some of her magic had extended to the opening band, The Walkmen. They started off well, but eventually a lot of the songs began to sound the same to me. Some of the pieces certainly had potential; they were the kind of songs that, if the band had been well-known, the whole audience would have sung along to. Since most of the crowd didn't really appear to have heard of them, though, and had only really shown up early so that they could get good seats for Florence + The Machine's performance, the attempts by The Walkmen sadly fell a little flat.

As would be expected, nine of the thirteen songs performed by Florence + The Machine were from the band's second album, Ceremonials; the few songs played from their debut Lungs included album highlights such as "Cosmic Love." For me, the concert's momentum definitely picked up as it went along. The catalyst was really the fifth song of the night, "Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)," during which Welch ran through the crowd and urged the audience members to get up on each other's shoulders. That was followed by "Spectrum" and "Heartlines," two songs whose choruses had the entire audience singing along. After a few songs in between, the last two songs before the encore were "Shake it Out" and "Dog Days are Over," and the performance of such beloved pieces of music really got the crowd going. The songs chosen for the encore were two of my personal favorites, "Never Let Me Go" and "No Light No Light"; the former was performed more softly and slowly than it is on the CD, and I think I prefer the original, but I was still glad to hear it. The concert ended as day turned into night, the twilight atmosphere providing the perfect finale for a magical evening.

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