Review: Florence + the Machine are humble headliners in Birmingham

Talk of women on stage in recent months has been huge – why aren’t there more female-fronted or all-female bands, why aren’t more being put on festival bills, and so on – but what can never be taken away no matter the negativity being thrown around is the magic that is Florence Welch.

Before they even had the chance to headline Glastonbury Festival after the Foo Fighters had to drop out, Florence + the Machine were met with extreme criticism. Many thought the band wasn’t known enough, didn’t have enough hits, and were just downright not headline material. And those who support women in music flung that mud straight back at the haters. But, in true Florence style, she and the machine blew both types of crowd away.

I wasn’t able to attend the festival, but I did get the catch the band playing at Birmingham’s Genting Arena (formally the LG Arena), on Saturday, September 19, as part of the most recent tour.

And I was blown away. It’s a wonder this group of extraordinary musicians, fronted by one of the most humble, gentle, and all-round nice women in music, has any breath left to keep huffing the house down.

Florence and the Machine Birmingham review Ticketmaster

Opening with What the Water Gave Me, even with the thousands of voices singing and screaming the lyrics back to her, Florence’s voice cut through them all and quite literally gave me goosebumps.

She then stormed into critically acclaimed Ship to Wreck and made sure no two feet were standing on the ground at any one time. Later in the show, more from the band’s most recent album was performed; How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was accompanied by a story as to how it was written while Florence herself was falling in love with a person and the world around her, and What Kind of Man came with thousands of people’s stories as they sang it back with their own meaning behind it.

Where some new material can fall flat on other tours, Florence chained the crowd to her wrist and took them along on her hyperactive ride so not one person was standing silently still awaiting a classic track.

Of course, classic tracks were also brought. Rabbit Heart (Raise it up), Cosmic Love, and cover You’ve Got the Love were among these.

The show closed on Dog Days Are Over, to which every single person was bouncing along with the twirling ginger dream that had not faltered on one note all night. There was one point where the balcony I was standing on did not feel very secured with the amount of people letting go with their dance moves. Coming back on for a two-song encore, the night ended with Drumming Song.

If there were any cynics in the crowd, this hour-and-a-half set would’ve easily won them over. 

Words: Gema Bate
Florence + the Machine, Genting Arena, Birmingham, 19/09/15