Florence + The Machine Headline Glastonbury 2015: Five Talking Points

Filling the shoes of the injured Dave Grohl, Florence + The Machine had it all to prove as Glastonbury’s Friday headliner. With a set full of hits and the singer back on her feet for the first time since breaking her foot at Coachella, Florence had 90 minutes to prove herself as a headliner on the UK’s biggest stage. Did she manage it? Of course she did. Showing with ease that she was far more than just a last minute substitute, Flo upped the ante, brought the hits and united everyone in joyous Glastonbury spirit. Here’s how it panned out.

The challenge

“We really wanted to have a choir, but we didn’t have time,” Florence told the crowd before ‘Shake It Off’. “Will you be our choir?” If she’d had more notice that she was topping the bill, Flo might have planned something more extravagant and decadent than her current setup, but tonight she proved that good headline sets aren’t always down to the extra spectacles artists bring with them. With songs like ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’, ‘Ship To Wreck’, ‘Dog Days Are Over’, ‘Spectrum (Say My Name)’ and ‘You’ve Got The Love’, she’s got more than enough bangers in her arsenal to make for a hit-packed performance.

The Foos cover

It was inevitable that Florence would give one of Foos’ songs an ornate makeover, as soon as it was announced that she would be replacing Dave Grohl’s men as headliner. Midway through the set, she gave everyone what they were waiting for – a stripped back but still epic take on ‘Times Like These’ dedicated to “the legend and all round incredible human being that is” Grohl. Before she led the sprawling audience in the tender version, she also thanked the frontman for his support and said “We were so sad when we heard Dave had broken his leg.”

The foot

Florence might have got her shot at headlining because of Grohl’s broken leg, but she’s not long recovered from her own festival injury – a broken foot sustained at Coachella. Tonight was her first show back on her feet, and she was back to her usual energetic self. Throughout the set, she darted from one side of the stage to the other barefooted, pirouetting and bouncing on her toes, and leaping off stage and racing up to the barrier. There was one heart-in-the-mouth moment during ‘What Kind Of Man’, when she slipped to the floor. “My whole family is here and when I fell over, my mum was like this,” Florence told the crowd before ‘You’ve Got The Love’. “Don’t worry mum, I’ve not broken any more bones.”

The spirit

There’s not many more artists better suited to headlining Glastonbury when it comes to spirit. During her dedication to Grohl, she mewed “We’re sending you all our love. I hope the Glastonbury leylines send it to you”. Ahead of ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ she explained the song was written when she thought everything was “beautiful and endless, I was falling in love not with a person but the world around me,” and as the set reached its final stages she initiated a big love-in, telling everyone to embrace, kiss, hug and touch each other. Any hippies in the audience will have felt right at home.

The finale

‘Dog Days Are Over’ was always going to be a crowdpleasing way to end the set, but Florence gave it an extra edge by stopping midway through to tell the crowd to take off their clothes and wave them above their heads and “take off any fears you have about this weekend”, before instructing everyone to jump up and down for the song’s final throes. Never one to be called a wallflower, she gamely joined in, ripping off her white linen shirt and bouncing up and down in her bra before running off stage to huge cheers.