On Tuesday 22nd September Florence and the Machine took to the stage in the beautiful Alexandra Palace as part of their huge ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ UK tour. Although in a fairly awkward location, Ally Pally does offer a shuttle bus from outside Wood Green station for a quid, which saves you a disgusting walk up the disgusting hill that Alexandra Palace sits upon.
The opening act to the night was the incredibly talented trio, The Staves. The three sisters, originally from Watford, have toured all across the globe, supporting some incredible acts such as Bon Iver and The Civil Wars, and now Florence and the Machine in London! The sisters managed to set the precedent for stunning vocals and beautiful stage design that continued throughout the entire evening. There is a very wholesome and down-to-earth feel to the music that The Staves produce, and their frequent harmonies appear to be completely effortless. Although their music is undeniably beautiful, The Staves failed to really get the crowd going, which left the beginning of the evening feeling rather flat.
As usual, the crowd went ever so slightly mad when the lights dimmed and parts of “the machine” walked onto the stage, including the beautiful Florence Welch herself. The energy and quality of performance of even the first two tracks (‘What the Water Gave Me’ and ‘Ship to Wreck’) proved to be equivalent to that of other artists’ encore sets, further solidifying Florence and the Machine’s status as being one of the greatest bands to have come out of Britain in recent years. Furthermore, it became evident quite early on that there was going to be a mix of both old and new tracks and a selection of tracks from all three albums, which pleased the crowd enormously.
It has to be noted that the stage design on the ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ tour is incredible. The entire back wall of the stage was adorned in a huge glitter backdrop that sparkled and changed colour throughout the evening. But my personal favourite, was the enormous circle that was fixed to the middle of the stage. Throughout the set the circle changed from a sun at sunset with a gorgeous red background, to an eclipsed moon, and it then proceeded to go through all of the phases of the moon – it was magical. Small pieces of dialogue from Florence were sprinkled throughout the set, with a joke about naming the tour, ‘How Big, How Grey, How Beautiful’, considering the weather in London. These small acknowledgments to the crowd meant the night felt more personable and created a bond between Florence and her crowd, which most would have struggled to do considering the immensity of the venue and the crowd.
Florence Welch herself came out in a very 70s/Stevie Nicks type ensemble, with that trendy shade of brown that few can pull off (Florence can if you were wondering), and matching white flared trousers and waistcoat – sounds horrendous when typed out, but actually looked amazing. As to be expected, Florence was constantly darting around the stage like an extremely energetic and barefooted ballerina. And although by the end of the night Florence, as a tangle of red hair, was seen to be crawling along the edge of the stage, this appeared to be a consequence of the raw power and emotion of her performance rather than literal exhaustion. Favourites from their discography such as ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)’, ‘You’ve Got the Love’, and ‘Spectrum’, alongside new tracks like ‘Mother’ and ‘Queen of Peace’, were all featured in the dynamic set list.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the remainder of Florence and the Machine’s UK tour, here.