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Concert Reviews:
Florence + the Machine shine at DTE
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

» See more SOUND CHECK

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Near the beginning of Florence + the Machine's show Friday night, May 24, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Florence Welch told the crowd having "rough patches when it comes to anxiety" that made her uncertain about being able to perform this time around.



Um...really?



Throughout the 17-song, hour-and-40-minute concert the British singer was, as usual, a dynamo. With a muscular voice that ranged from whisper to rage, Welch -- sporting a light-colored Victorian dress with buttons and leg of mutton sleeves -- moved side to side across the multi-level, wood-slatted stage with a combination of aerobic ebullience and balletic grace, hair flying and hands flapping as if playing with invisible fairies. She instructed the crowd that "this is not a show where you get to just watch" and walked her talk, striding up aisle to the mixing board in the center of the pavilion during "Delilah," then singing the following "What Kind of Mine" atop the barricade fence in front of the stage, hugging and holding fans.



So much for debilitating anxiety.



That Welch, the Machine (aka) and their seven-piece band can deliver a galvanizing show really isn't a surprise; They've done it for the better part of the past 10 years. But just how good the group is remains a marvel, whether it's the jaw-dropping purity of Welch's vocalizing or the dynamic power of the band's arrangements. Friday's show was another reminder that Welch is on a par with predecessors such as Kate Bush and especially Annie Lennox, a combination of basic excellence and quirky idiosyncrasy. She's created her own kind of musical world, and we're happy to live in it, on stage or record -- including last year's "High As Hope."



The latter was the focus of Friday's show, with a generous seven songs ranging from the moody opener "June" to the tribal "Hunger" and the ruminative "Big God," which was accompanied by a gentle shower of confetti from above. Particularly moving was "Patricia," Welch's ode to onetime St. Clair Shores resident Patti Smith; After paying tribute to the groundbreaking singer and poet, Welch addressed the women's civil rights issue currently raging in America, telling fans that "You deserve so much more. From the core of my being, I am with you and I am horrified."



Welch also put her money where her mouth was, requesting that fans donate the money they might spend on a souvenir T-shirt to the American Civil Liberties Union.



Also on the new front was "Jenny of Oldstones," Welch's airy musical contribution to "Game of Thrones," which she dedicated to the character Arya Stark.



Welch and company didn't ignore its past, either. An extended "Dog Days Are Over" and a shimmering "Ship To Wreck" was a killer mid-show combination followed by the ferocious blues of "Moderation." "The End of Love" and "Cosmic Love" -- for which Welch urged the crowd to light up the cell phones she'd asked them to put away earlier -- was another effective back-to-back, and "Shake It Out" ended the night with more tribal urgency.



By then any of Welch's protestations of stage fright were a distant memory. It was one more excellent concert to add to the group's track record and enough to sustain us until the (hopefully soon) next time it comes around.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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