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Concert Reviews:
Florence + the Machine bring high times to hot DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- "Do you want to get high with us?" Florence Welch asked a packed DTE Energy Music Theatre at the beginning of Florence + the Machine's show on Saturday night, June 11.

Well, sure. But even the most ardent fan of the British band walked away from the magnificent hour-and-50-minute show a little surprised and certainly delighted by just how high Welch and company took things.

Proclaiming herself a "maximalist," Welch gave a maximum effort on a night when many an ethereal pop princess might have melted from the heat -- literally, as the air was still thick and melty when she and her 11-piece band took the DTE stage (and was positively blast furnace-worthy during a potent opening set by Iceland's Of Monsters And Men). But Welch, barefoot in her flowing Tiffany blue dress over a nude body suit, put in as much sweat as her fans, running side to side across the DTE stage, leaping and twirling with a combination of balletic grace and pub room energy, and even wading a few feet into the pavilion during an encore rendition of "What Kind of Man" to "baptize" a male fan sitting near the front.

And her voice? Adele may get all the headlines (and greater sales) but on Saturday Welch laid claim to her own place at the top of the vocalist pantheon, flaunting both range and muscle as well as just enough emotive cleverness to make the live renditions of songs from her three albums eclipse their recorded counterparts. Even the rare instances when some road wear 'n' tear could be detected it only enhanced her performances, and the wealth of Saturday's standouts included "Ship To Wreck," a shimmering "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," "Cosmic Love," "Mother," the rarity "Various Storms & Saints" and the chill-inducing (even in the heat) title track to her latest release, "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful," during which Welch pleaded with the DTE crowd to put away its cell phones and just enjoy the moment.

The Machine, meanwhile, came will enough firepower to deliver all of the necessary ambient intricacy the songs required -- 11 members including a harpist and a trio that doubled as horn players and backing vocalists. Performing in front of a mirrored floor-to-ceiling backdrop, the facile troupe, like Welch, gave the music an interpretive heft that took them well beyond the records.

Other highlights among the night's 16 songs included an anthemic "Shake It Out," for which Welch enlisted the crowd as the "choir" for the song`s chorus and a pair of well-chosen covers -- Calvin Harris' melodically cascading "Sweet Nothing," which Welch sang for Harris' album "18 Months," and the Source's soulful 1986 hit "You've Got The Love." But Welch and the Machine really nailed everything they played, truly elevating a hot night when they could have understandably wilted.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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