Florence And The Machine

Florence And The Machine

Florence Welch lets her wonderfully deranged canon loose on Scotland. Glasgow (November 4)

Tonight will – eventually – mark a truly momentous tectonic-shift of social and political plates. Tonight, America will make us all proud and elect a president capable of coherent, joined-up thought. But right now, we don’t know any of that. Right now, we’re just nauseous with dread about what might happen in six hours’ time. And we desperately need to think about something that isn’t the fate of the western world. So thank God for Florence Welch, a girl who comes from another one entirely.

Sure, the stage – littered with garlands of brightly-coloured flowers – might look like it’s been set for Kate Nash’s sixth birthday party, but once Welch bounds on in a blue-sequinned leotard and opens her mouth, it’s clear we’re in the presence of a true freak, a beautiful oddity, an indisputable other.

Take the mean-spirited mutilation-blues of ‘The Girl With One Eye’ – matter-of-factly introduced in an impossibly innocent-coy, pre-pubescent voice as “a song about cutting a girl’s eye out”. It could almost soundtrack a Diet Coke ad were it not so ludicrously, wonderfully grisly. Or the sugary, Smiths-y deception of ‘Birdsong’, which starts out like a nursery rhyme and ends with Florence coming close to hyperventilation as she rants about how she grabbed the titular avian gossip and “Held him down, broke his neck, taught him a lesson he wouldn’t forget”. We’re a long, long way from “fittah” and “bittah”. Then there’s the voice; capable of Kate Bush-esque hysterics or throaty, Patti Smith-style drawls. Like Grace Jones, she treads the line between utterly entrancing and genuinely terrifying.

Amid all this, Florence sips tea and prances around daintily like she’s in her bedroom and nobody’s watching. It all makes for a joyous, endearing and thoroughly odd sight to behold. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, Obama won out in the end. But for 30 weird and wonderful minutes, we almost didn’t care.

Barry Nicolson