Florence & The Machine are busy tearing up the music scene in 2016. Bloody exciting, isn’t it? To whip up your excitement, take a trip down memory lane and relive 20 of the band’s biggest moments…
Florence got her foot in the music industry door when she spotted Mairead Nash, one half of DJ duo Queens Of Noize, in a boozer. Suitably pissed, she followed her into the toilet and bellowed a cover of Etta James’ ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’. It sounds like a pub nightmare, but Nash was impressed enough to agree to be her manager.
In June 2008, Florence and co. released debut single ‘Kiss With A Fist’, but Welch had to fend off accusations of glamorising domestic violence in the song’s portrayal of a turbulent relationship. “‘Kiss with a Fist’ is NOT a song about domestic violence,” she said. “It’s about two people pushing each other to psychological extremes because they are fighting but they still love each other.”
Proof that music journalists occasionally get it right: in early 2009, Florence And The Machine were tipped for success by the great and the good of the music industry when they were given the Brits Critics Choice Award.
Here’s how you turn heads at a festival, folks: in August 2009, just weeks after the release of ‘Lungs’, Florence became the breakout star of that year’s Reading And Leeds festival by climbing a 30 foot scaffold during her set.
Florence & The Machine’s debut album ‘Lungs’ (2009) was full of firecrackers. It sold three million copies worldwide and spawned a number of notable remixes including Jamie T’s addictively
ravey rework of ‘Rabbit Heart’.
Collaborations seldom come much bigger or better than Florence and Dizzee’s coming together: the pair performed a mash-up of their respective hits ‘You Got The Love’ and ‘Dirtee Cash’ at the 2010 Brit Awards. An absolutely massive banger, it was released as a single and was a Number Two hit.
Two massive moments in one night: in addition to her collab with Dizzee, the 2010 Brit Awards saw Florence And The Machine take home the Best British Album gong for ‘Lungs’. As well as fending off competition from Dizzee’s ‘Tongue ‘N’Cheek’, it also triumphed over albums from Kasabian, Lily Allen and Paolo Nutini to win the prize.
The MTV VMAs have seen some big moments over the years – think Britney’s python, Madonna’s wedding dress and Eminem and his lookalikes. In 2010, Florence also met the challenge with a complex, choreographed routine for ‘Dog Days Are Over’ that required her to shimmy on a revolving platform. She later admitted she’d been so nervous about getting it right she frequently cried during rehearsals.
This didn’t hurt Flo’s standing in the US, either. Just a couple of months after her breakout turn at the VMAs, she was chosen to contribute to the soundtrack of US teen vampire franchise Twilight. The band’s track, ‘Heavy In Your Arms’, was used in the score for Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Florence has a habit of bringing the goods for Hollywood flicks. After her Twilight turn, she also joined the likes of Jay Z, Beyonce, Andre 3000, Jack White and The xx for the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Her contribution, ‘Over The Love’, was one of the score’s highlights.
We’ve all had those pangs of if-I-was-only-at-that-gig jealousy. At least Florence & The Machine tried to make the envy a bit more bearable in 2011, though, when their giant comeback gig at Hackney Empire – in which both old classics and a smattering of new songs were played – was streamed online. Makes it much, much easier to pretend you were there all along, you see…
“Florence has made a near-great pop record that should afford her the creative freedom to do whatever the hell she wants next time around,” wrote NME’s Barry Nicolson of Flo’s second album released in 2011. Bring on album three.
We might have reached Calvin Harris overload now, but his 2012 duet with Florence was a bona-fide banger: the dancefloor-devouring ‘Sweet Nothing’ is the type of energising blast which makes you more forgiving at the delays between her own studio albums, as long as she’s guesting on tracks like this.
Showing up the preening prince of rock, Mick Jagger, is no easy feat. But in November 2012, Florence was asked to join The Rolling Stones onstage at the O2 for an ace rendition of their classic hit ‘Gimme Shelter’. An iconic moment, as rock’s storied past was joined by one of the biggest pop stars of the modern age.
One of the finest duets in NME Awards history, now: in 2012, The Horrors treated everyone to a special version of their track ‘Still Life’, from their ‘Skying’ album, by recruiting Florence to join them onstage. You can watch their collaboration here.
Congratulations, Florence! In 2013 she picked up a couple of our hallowed statues with their middle finger salutes when she won Best Solo Artist and Best Dancefloor Anthem with Calvin Harris for ‘Sweet Nothing’. She’d bagged Best Solo Artist the year before, too, as well as Best Track for ‘Shake It Out’.
You know you’ve made it when Hollywood comes-a-calling: in July 2013, it was heavily rumoured that Welch had been picked to star in Disney’s Star Wars reboot. “Florence is being considered for a major part that would turn her into an A-list actress overnight.” A singing Sith? A musical Jedi? Florence using the Force? Sadly, she didn’t score the part – but still, what could have been, eh?
Despite the massive success of ‘Lungs’, a Number One single eluded Florence & The Machine until Calvin Harris worked his remix magic on ‘Spectrum’. Their collaboration ‘Spectrum (Say My Name)’ sold over 60,000 copies in its first week to give the band their first chart-topping track.
‘MTV Unplugged’ is something of an institution nowadays; you need only remember just how revered Nirvana’s sombre, subtle acoustic show in 1994 still is to realise why it’s such a big deal. In 2012 Florence & The Machine had a crack, too, with Florence’s duet with Josh Homme on ‘Jackson’ the standout turn.
Florence’s T Party was one of the most memorable moments of the 2012 festival season. Given the penultimate spot on the Main Stage on the Friday evening, she blew headliners Snow Patrol away and staked her own claim as a future festival bill-topper for years to come.