Tag Archives: Florence and the Machine

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The Sky Is the Limit

December 17th, 2012

Haim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 15, 2012


“This is the best birthday I will ever have in my life,” Alana Haim told Saturday’s sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd. It was her 21st, and she still hadn’t had her first legal drink. Along with playing guitar and keys, she’s the baby of Haim. “I don’t think I could breathe without everyone on this stage,” she later revealed. “Everyone on this stage” included oldest sister Este (bass and vocals) and middle sister Danielle (lead guitar and vocals). And with drummer Dash Hutton, they played the best show I’ve seen all year.

Haim’s destiny seems almost preordained. Their parents (known as “Mama and Papa Haim” by the sisters) were both musicians—Mama played acoustic guitar and sang while Papa was a drummer. For 10 years, the Haim sisters played in a cover band, Rockinhaim, with their parents. This experience proved integral to their development as accomplished musicians in their own right. (Este studied Brazilian music and percussion at UCLA, and Danielle has toured with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas.) And it brought them all so close together that, to this day, Haim still bring Mama and Papa on tour with them.

This grounding influence readily appears onstage in a couple of ways. First, they’re incredibly comfortable under the lights. Este, Danielle and Alana are witty, charming and hilarious, and they banter like friends entertaining guests. Second, their live show absolutely rocks. Their two outstanding EPs display a penchant for electro pop, and live, they seamlessly blend classic rock, ’80s pop, country and rockabilly. They’ve opened for such diverse acts as Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine and No Age. Danielle especially impresses on vocals and guitar. She channels her inner Melissa Etheridge and shreds on her Gibson SG, the iconic axe used by legendary lead guitar players like Angus Young and Derek Trucks. Although stylistically, she sounds more like David Gilmour, picking and choosing each note with deliberate care.

But in the end, it was Alana’s night. And before they played what happened to be their first ever encore, Mama handed Alana a cupcake lit by a leftover menorah candle, and the family led the crowd in a verse of “Happy Birthday.” “It’s officially Alanukah!” announced Mama. Alana closed her eyes for a few seconds to conjure a wish. And after she blew out the candles, the band became Rockinhaim, playing a stunning rendition of “Mustang Sally,” with Mama impressing on lead vocals and Papa banging a heavily funky beat. Though we’ll never know what it was, Alana’s wish will almost certainly comes true: For this band, the sky is the limit. —Alex Kapelman

 

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A Simian Mobile Dance Party Comes to Webster Hall

December 5th, 2012

James Ford and Jas Shaw were already part of the experimental-electronic band Simian, but, with shared interest in electronic dance music, they wanted something more. So they left the original group to form the electronic-music duo Simian Mobile Disco. As DJs and producers, Ford and Shaw are also known for their remix work (together and individually) with groups like Arctic Monkeys, Muse and Florence and the Machine. Their first LP, the subtle but energetic Attack Decay Sustain Release, came out in 2007 and was very well received. Simian Mobile Disco have remained busy ever since: Their third album, Unpatterns (stream it below), was released earlier this year, and tomorrow night they bring their dance party to Webster Hall.

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Florence + the Machine – Radio City Music Hall – May 8, 2012

May 9th, 2012


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Florence and the Machine – Terminal 5 – November 2, 2010

November 3rd, 2010

Florence and The Machine - Terminal 5 - Nov 2 2010

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com

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An Extra Chance to See Florence and the Machine

August 19th, 2010


Back in April, Florence Welch thrilled the sold-out crowd at Terminal 5 so much so that she’s returning to town to play the venue twice, on November 1st and 2nd. But you won’t have to wait that long to get your fix of the bluesy redhead with a big voice because Florence and the Machine will be performing “Dog Days Are Over” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, September 12th). The song’s video is nominated for Video of the Year and Best Rock Video. Welch, an enthralling live performer, says the song is about “chaotic freedom and running really, really fast with your eyes closed.” Decide for yourself: Check out Florence and the Machine, above, in the video and, below, playing the song on the English show Live on Alan Carr.

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The Greats Are Great, Even When They’re Not

April 12th, 2010

Florence and the Machine – Terminal 5 – April 9, 2010

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Florence Welch strutted to the stage dressed in a flowing white camisole, evoking something like a deconstructed swan, equally beautiful and breaking. Her knobby knees attached to skinny legs attached to high heels, which click-clacked to the microphone in front of a sold-out Terminal 5 packed with people who had come to see this tiny girl with the enormous pipes. Her performance would prove more workmanlike than mercurial, battling a worn-out voice through songs designed for her normally fighter-plane vocals. But like all the greats, Welch would not quietly bow to the wear of the road. Instead, we saw a different woman, profoundly animated, willing to work with us and through the night.

For clarity’s sake, saying Welch was “battling a worn-out voice” is roughly analogous to saying you stayed in the shittiest five-star hotel in Monte Carlo. She has push-you-back-in-your-seat, dunk-from-the-foul-line, big-enough-to-sink-this-city ability. Early in the night on “Kiss with a Fist,” the singer colored the domestic-violence metaphors by testing the top of her range in the song’s final third. Moving through album-stunners “Coffins” and “Between Two Lungs,” she eased off the throttle, while pointing and gesturing at the first few rows of people. It only became clear how much of a vocal struggle Welch was engaged in when she altered the melody on “Drumming Song.” Not coincidentally, the song’s centerpiece was a stunning breakdown where Welch, heels off now, skipped through the middle of the stage while barking an improvised second movement. The greats are great, even when they’re not.

Before “Cosmic Love,” Welch mentioned that she had some family in the audience. Of course this lead to a final denouement where the crowd insisted on being dubbed family, too. She raised her glass to us, and a thousand people raised their digital cameras in return. After closing with a carbonated “Dog Days Are Over,” Welch returned for an encore of “You’ve Got the Love” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” In one of the last lyrics of the night, she wailed into the dark: “This is a gift/ It comes with a price.” A song about animal sacrifice could have been no more appropriate for the tiny woman who stayed long after her band left to bow, wave and thank the people who came to see her. —Geoff Nelson

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Win Free Tickets to See Florence and the Machine on 4/9

April 6th, 2010

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Florence and the Machine play a sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Friday. But even if you don’t have tickets, you can still try to Grow a Pair from The House List. Want to go? It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, including your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Florence and the Machine, 4/9) and a brief message explaining your favorite part of this week—Easter, Opening Day or the NCAA championship. Eddie Bruiser, a baseball guy, will notify the winner on Friday. Good luck.

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One of a Kind

October 28th, 2009

Florence and the Machine – The Bowery Ballroom – October 27, 2009

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Watching Florence Welch sing is like watching any number of acts, absurd in their direction, scope and control. She is a dunk from the foul line, a release of water held furtively behind a dam, the climactic scene of Scent of a Woman. She is mind-blowing. In fact, she may directly oppose every visual metaphor in this paragraph. She is like the Grand Canyon: You’ve either seen it up close, or you haven’t.

Dressed in flowing white, Welch spilled to the stage with her black-clad band, the Machine. Opening with “Two Lungs,” Welch exploded into the chorus. She didn’t need all of the considerable orchestra, including the harp, to vibrate the floor of a completely packed Bowery Ballroom. With the Island Records crew stuffed into the balcony, Welch flitted around the stage, pushing her elbows back and popping her chest out like some mechanical and delicate bird. She repeatedly pointed at us, directly, to emphasize elements of her story, only to cover a smile with her hand. She is emphatic and wilting, if these two things are possible at once.

Welch referring to herself as “Flo,” sang almost every song on her album, Lungs. “Drumming Song” was predictably tribal and elevating, making you think this is the 20-years-later incarnation of Kate Bush. “Cosmic Love” was the best song of the night and closed the set before the encore. Her voice pushed us back in our seats, grabbing the visual to zoom and pan. As much as you try, she is not like anything else. —Geoff Nelson