The most awe-inspiring moments from Florence + The Machine’s set at Mad Cool 2022

Flo strives for a real human connection during her mesmerising Saturday night headline set

As a high priestess of pop, Florence Welch has always injected a sense of real togetherness into her magnificent live performances, while also keeping the music equally lush and accessible. On stage at Mad Cool 2022, her daring energy sees her run laps around the stage barefoot with the speed and grace of a gazelle, while offering pockets of genuine and endearing charm: “I want you all to travel to somewhere special with me tonight,” she whispers at one point. “Do you trust me to take you away?”

Welch and her band deliver a headline set with an abundance of soul, depth and joy. From heartbreaking beauty to barely-contained chaos, they treat us to a powerful and uplifting performance, which encapsulated their near-15 years as one of UK indie’s most vital groups. Here are five of the most inspiring moments from Florence + The Machine’s headline set at Mad Cool 2022.

Tracks from ‘Dance Fever’ received the live treatment

A portion of the setlist is derived from the latest Florence + The Machine album, a genuinely remarkable and uplifting record even by their standards, but one that seems perfectly – and singularly – suited to ringing out across festival fields, anchored by the deep, slippery feelings the songs evoke. The thumping ‘My Love’ is augmented live by detours into wild dance improvisation, while Welch encourages us to let out a communal scream during the dramatic ‘King’, and even practises breathing exercises with her fans at the start of the song, too.

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Florence + The Machine. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Welch walks among her cult

During a coruscating ‘Dream Girl Evil’, Welch begins to beckon her audience to come closer – and the front section moved forward. She grips the front row’s hands for support as she sings, plants a kiss atop one visibly emotional fan’s head, and even plays around with a handful of flower crowns that were being worn by others. As the track’s loose, twinkling melodies begin to unfurl, Welch moves further into the crowd, until she’s held entirely aloft by her devotees. “You’ve now all joined the cult of Florence + The Machine”, she declared afterwards. Sign us up!

‘Dog Days Are Over’ becomes a phones-free “ritual”

Over a decade into her career, Welch has proven herself to be a musician that can inspire a singular and undying devotion among her fans. Upon her request, phones are left firmly in punters’ pockets during ‘Dog Days Are Over’, which allows the swelling crowds to fully embrace the joy of a fleeting, life-affirming live experience. “We have been spending far too much time on screens,” she says. “We need to spend this moment together instead!”

Credit: Andy Ford for NME

She also performs a “resurrection of dance”

Introducing ‘Free’ – a skittering track from ‘Dance Fever’ that chronicles Welch’s experiences of living with anxiety, and how she uses dancing as a coping mechanism – the vocalist tells us that, in referencing the pandemic-induced lockdowns, “this song was written when there was simply no dancing.” As the song’s rumbling drum patterns gradually quicken in pace and intensity, Welch commands thousands of flailing bodies to jump in tandem, and swiftly thanks us for “bringing the power of dance and movement back to life.”

‘Never Let Me Go’ makes a special appearance

The sob-inducing ballad, which was the centre-piece of the band’s 2012 album ‘Ceremonials’, originally made its live return at a special ‘Dance Fever’ launch show at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane in April. However, at Mad Cool, Welch is keen to stress that performing the emotive song – which she wrote “after a heavy, heavy hangover” a decade ago – to a festival crowd is entirely a different beast. “For years, this song was very difficult for me to perform,” she says. “But you’ve all been so kind to me this evening, and have given me everything, so you deserve it.”

Florence + The Machine played:

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‘Heaven Is Here’
‘King’
‘What Kind of Man’
‘Kiss With a Fist’
‘Free’
‘Dog Days Are Over’
‘Dream Girl Evil’
‘Cosmic Love’
‘My Love’
‘Big God’
‘Spectrum’
‘Never Let Me Go’
‘Hunger’
Encore:
‘Shake It Out’
‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’

Check back here at NME for the latest news, interviews, photos and more from Mad Cool 2022.

NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022

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