Florence and The Machine

Bar Music Hall, Shoreditch, 10 May 2007

Written by Joanna McGarry

Thursday 10th May marked a first for Florence of new soulful double act Florence and the Machine; it was the first time she had ever performed alone after a curious event left her machinist Matthew Alchin bundled in a car bound for Bristol. Although admittedly daunted by the prospect of filling the mammoth Bar Music Hall with only her voice, Florence sauntered through her mystically bluesy set with ease. With an engaging presence and childlike innocence, Florence traverses through tales of passion, regret and revenge. With titles such as My Boy Builds Coffins and My Best Dress she presents herself as natural story-teller, her candid lyrics signify a vivid imagination second only to her startlingly powerful voice.

Adorably attired in a floral shirt bound at the waist and with a flick of her burnt brunette locks, Florence effortlessly commands the attention of the room, drawing a respectably large crowd to the front of the stage, emphatically pounding the floor to generate a beat: the large and airy Bar Music Hall becomes unified as a vibrant blues hall of yesteryear.

The set is short and although at times there is a sense that the song has ended a touch hastily, Florence has successfully avoided over-singing – or warbling – an irritating misjudgment often made by those with an especially strong and gifted voice (see Aguilera).

It would be an injustice to saddle her in the ranks of the recent spate of young, savvy female songwriters that have emerged over the past couple of years; Florence oozes a unique originality and charm, notably lacking the hunger for celebrity or ostensibly commercial success that many of her predecessors have pursued. However, not unlike the Nash’s and Winehouse’s of the contemporary, Florence aligns herself with the girls. She is accessible and familiar. Her tales of love lost and found, coupled with her playfulness on stage evoke a sense of a mischief akin to a young girl who has muddied her best dress. Florence is undoubtedly the star of the show but she wants us all to shine with her.

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