A chance meeting led to more than a decade of music.
Florence Welch came to a recording studio with then musician-boyfriend. Working there that night was Isabella Summers. The two women became friends and eventually band mates. When they started performing together, they were billed under "Florence Robot/Isa Machine", which was a private joke for the nicknames they used for each other. Welch thought the name was too much so they changed it a bit. That's how they became "Florence & the Machine."
The band brought their "High as Hope" tour back to Chicago, for a second time, on Thursday night. The location was the Huntington Bank Pavilion, on Northerly Island, at Chicago's lakefront. The venue gives you a picturesque view of the downtown skyscrapers lit up. When you add a beautiful night of seventy degree temperature and a clear sky, it reminds you of why there isn't anything better than listening music outside on a spring or summer evening.
While the band itself is loaded with terrific instrumentalists, the show is all about Florence Welch. You wouldn't think that someone who has such a soft-spoken voice would have such a powerful Grace Slick-like singing voice. You also wouldn't think that someone who is known for being shy and deals with anxiety problems would spend two hours dancing and twirling around a stage. But, you get all of that and more.
Florence has this waif-like look which channels one of her musical idols, Stevie Nicks. The way she moves around the stage reminds you of a prancing Mick Jagger. The audience comes along with her. From the first song, they're standing, singing and dancing along with her, and it doesn't stop until the finale. If you like your concerts sitting on your chair, and there's nothing wrong with that, a "Florence and the Machine" show isn't for you.
As for the music, the setlist has been the same throughout the tour. It features the music from their 2018 "High as Hope" album. Although it was titled as a "Florence and the Machine" record, it could have just as easily have been Welch's first solo album because Summers didn't play, write or help produce any of the ten tracks. One highlight is the song "Patricia", which is dedicated to another of her musical idols, Patti Smith.
If you weren't familiar with the latest tunes, they played enough of their earlier catalog to keep your interest. The crowd was enthusiastically singing along with "Dog Days Are Over", What Kind of Man" and the finale of "Shake It Out", which had the amphitheater lit up with lights from everyone's cell phones.
When you combine all of the above, it gives you a memorable night of entertainment. While the show leaves you much more than satisfied, you have to wonder what is next for Florence and the band. Will she strike out on her own or is she happy as the frontman of the band? It is possible to do both. We await to see what's next.
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