One of a Kind

October 28th, 2009

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

Florence and the Machine
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