Florence + The Machine, Leon Bridges, Marlon Williams @ Botanic Park, Adelaide 16/1/2019

Occasionally when you’re least suspecting it there’s a show that you get to experience that well and truly blows your away. Well, for me that was Florence + The Machine. Brilliant! Amazing! Really something! It is hard to believe that the last time I saw this incredible performer was all the way back in 2010 at Laneway Festival and it has been quite the journey since.

Botanic Park was the perfect setting despite the heat, the occasional drop of rain and bats falling out of the trees. Adelaide turned out in numbers early to catch a glimpse of three incredible artists who played on this bill. New Zealander Marlon Williams was great and warmed the stage famously. Marlon is charismatic, has plenty of swagger and is ultra cool (not sure about the shorts though!). He also congratulated Adelaide on being the hottest place on the planet and also reflected on the last time he played here which was at WOMADelaide a couple of years ago. Playing plenty of rippers including Party Boy and Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore off his relative new album Make Way For Love. Marlon wished the crowd an awesome night hoping that something awesome will happen in your life leaving the crowd with a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover Portrait Of A Man.

Leon Bridges brought the grooves and the moves to the stage winning over plenty of fans in his hour long set. Adelaide was quite fortunate to see him play here as his own tour did not include a stop here proving to be a solid replacement for Billie Eilish. Bridges set included hits from his debut Coming Home and the Grammy Award nominated Good Thing. A few drops of rain didn’t bother the punters as they got their groove on with a set that included the likes of Coming Home, Beyond, Brown Skin Girl, Smooth Sailin’ and River backed by his seven piece band.

It was quite the production for Florence + The Machine with the band taking the stage and Florence making a grand entrance to plenty of cheers and admiration. Wow! Opening with June then Hunger from the new album High As Hope Florence danced, twirled, leaped in the air mesmerising the crowd with her free form dancing showing signs of Kate Bush for one. Between Two Lungs carried on in much the same vain with Florence then asking “Adelaide, would you like to dance with us?”

As their set unfolded it was incredible to watch and hard not to be in awe of what we were experiencing. Only If For Night and Queen Of Peace followed. Florence thanked the crowd from having them back and made the comment that they had not done a full tour by themselves up until now indicating that Australia was the first to embrace them. She also apologised for being shy and that “speaking is hard but I’ll try. Offstage I only speak to one to two people a day”.

South London Forever was about messy teenage attitude which was a long messy time and that it does not get less mess when you’re out of it and that it’s just different. Florence encourage the crowd not to give up hope and keep doing what you can to make a difference further adding to make it as hippy as possible to hold hands so you feel connected. With the audience singing it looked like she was a little overwhelmed saying “that was beautiful”.

Patricia was a homage to the legendary Patti Smith so that every time this song is sung she is with her except “the bit in the middle” which is about toxic masculinity to which Florence asked the audience to sing it and “rage with us”. Dog Days Are Over was another significant moment in the set where Florence asked the audience to turn and embrace each other and then do something strange by asking everyone to put their phone away and have an experience. It was great to hear a new song feature Meditation which made its live debut in Perth.

So many great songs to come including Ship To Wreck, The End Of Love and Cosmic Love. Florence did take the time to reflect particularly with her newfound sobriety and how her music has taken her around the world saying that “sometimes I can’t believe this has happened”. Delilah was epic with Florence running through the crowd and it was priceless watching people scurry for the phones to capture that moment. The set finished on What Kind Of Man. Returning for an encore Florence blew the audience a kiss finishing on Big God and Shake It Out asking the audience to be their choir and sing together, stunning! There’s no doubt that Florence + The Machine will be back some time soon and if you’re contemplating buying a ticket, get one, you won’t regret it.

Live Review by Rob Lyon

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