Florence And The Machine begin London Alexandra Palace residency with dramatic performance

Band will play a further three dates at north London venue this week

Florence And The Machine began a run of four sold-out gigs at London’s Alexandra Palace last night as the group’s UK tour approaches its end.

The set began with Welch’s 11-piece band taking to the stage and setting the mood with a dark and eerie piece of music. They were soon joined by their singer, who climbed onto the stage from the floor level and began to sing ‘What The Water Gave Me’. Dressed in silk white trousers with a matching waistcoat and no shoes, Welch sprinted from one side of the stage to the next as the song reached its dramatic peak.

Welch spent much of the night sprinting around the stage, darting from left to right during ‘Ship To Wreck’ and pirouetting as she and her band performed debut album single ‘Third Eye’.

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“Hello London,” Welch said as she hid her face from the crowd’s applause. “Thank you so much for coming. We had wanted a choir with us tonight but were wondering if you would be our choir.” If the fans’ cheers weren’t obvious enough, their involvement in ‘Shake It Out’ and Candi Staton cover ‘You’ve Got The Love’ certainly was.

Flanked by two screens showing close-up footage of Welch and with a mirror-tiled wall behind the stage, the setting was suitably theatrical and decadent. Fans were urged to climb on a partner’s shoulders during ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ with Welch singing the second half of the song while propped up by security on the front row.

Welched embraced fans throughout the gig, but did not address them directly too often. Before ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’ she did, however, explain the role her hometown of London had played in its creation.

“It was recorded right here in London. I cycled every day from Kennington to Elephant & Castle. I was writing this song about a big blue sky. It was written at a time when I was in love not just with someone but everyone I met. I took this song around the world with me and then I brought it home to record.”

London also got a shout out before a stripped back version of ‘Cosmic Love’, another early song that Wlech said was written after she was told that she “couldn’t just lie on the floor” after a break up. The song was played with the backing of just an acoustic guitar and harp.

Towards the end of the set fans were urged to take off their shirts and whip them above heads during ‘Dog Days Are Over’ while a two-song encore began with ‘What Kind Of Man’. Spotting a male fan on the front row, Welch sang the latter inches from his face.

After climbing back onto the stage as ‘What Kind Of Man’ ended, Welch collapsed backwards at the feet of bass player Mark Saunders. The 90-minute set then ended with ‘Drumming Song’.

The group have been on an arena tour around the UK throughout September and will spend the majority of this week at the 10,000 capacity venue with further dates scheduled on Tuesday (September 22), Thursday (September 24) and Friday (September 25) night.

Florence and The Machine played:

‘What The Water Gave Me’
‘Ship To Wreck’
‘Shake It Out’
‘Third Eye’
‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’
‘Delilah’
‘You’ve Got The Love’
‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’
‘Cosmic Love’
‘Long & Lost’
‘Mother’
‘Queen Of Peace’
‘Spectrum’
‘Dog Days Are Over’
‘What Kind Of Man’
‘Drumming Song’

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