Florence + the Machine at State Theatre, 4/27/12

Florence + the Machine
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Friday, April 27, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

"This is such a beautiful venue," Florence Welch said to her assembled subjects midway through Friday's performance. And indeed the ornate State Theatre is one of the few spots worthy of the fantastical chamber rock Florence + the Machine create during tightly orchestrated performances such as this one. Unlike a Taylor Swift show, it's pageantry from inside the palace by an actual budding queen -- and a complex one at that.

A barefoot Florence Welch fell into her character quite naturally Friday evening. A combination of Fritz Lang's futuristic Metropolis, Superman II villainess Ursa, Kate Bush, and all manners of wicked royalty found in Disney films, her persona can emit the coldness of a freshly wounded heart, but she was also ready to shoot lightning from her black nail-polished index finger.

The set behind her was a palace (or cathedral) of sorts with stained glass windows, a troupe of musicians including a harpist, two charged backup singers, and abundant percussion. All it lacked was a court jester. Each song welcomed bold new lighting choices, which turned her gown that looked like velvet at the outset into a transparent, flowing curtain of radiance. It was eventually thrown on the floor.

Florence + the Machine at State Theatre, 4/27/12
Photo by Tony Nelson

Through a set balancing tracks from F+TM's two albums, Lungs and last year's Ceremonials, the drama unfolding onstage was subtle. Welch didn't smear herself in fake blood or shoot fireworks from her chest, but she commanded the room all the same, and the severe-angled glass shimmering from her microphone stand was her scepter. Movements came in the form of twirls and regal gesticulations as she stomped into the rock operetta Enya never wrote, "What the Water Gave Me."

The audience needed virtually no encouragement to collectively submit to Florence's majesty throughout this night. Vigorous clapping and chanting erupted during "Heartlines," a robust piece from Ceremonials. The crowd response was overwhelming enough throughout that the normally stoic Welch couldn't help but reveal a glistening smile.

Florence + the Machine at State Theatre, 4/27/12
Photo by Tony Nelson

For the close of the main set, "Dog Days Are Over" proved to be the moment for a flight of fancy. Welch didn't merely instruct her subjects to let go of any of the inhibitions they had left and dance, she delivered it with the instructions: "One, two, three... hop!" There would be no crowd-surfing or bringing fans up onstage to break the fourth wall that was all-too-apparent throughout, but this was a lively moment of humanity that all of our celebrated heroines reveal -- albeit briefly. Even if she was once a commoner, as the dynamic hit played out its loud and soft shifts, the mystique of our gifted queen had only grown. 

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Lots of the fairer sex in loud, gaudy gowns, gold lame jackets, and even a coat with Elvis gracing the back. Also a dude in a flashing Hawaiian lei. No one content to go gentle into that good night.

Overheard: Mostly a crescendo of screams.

Random Notebook Dump: Madonna's "Like a Prayer" x100.

Only If for a Night
What the Water Gave Me
Cosmic Love
Between Two Lungs
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Leave My Body
Lover to Lover
You've Got the Love
Shake It Out
Dog Days Are Over

Never Let Me Go
No Light, No Light

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