Florence + the Machine @ Sheffield Arena
The voice is huge of course, but as they pirouette into Sheffield like a music box ballerina, you still wonder whether Florence + the Machine will fill a space like Sheffield Arena. Witness atmospheric openers The Staves who despite some of the most amazing three-part harmonies I’ve heard, stretch their music to breaking point as they try and reach the darkest corners of the Arena.
But as Ms Welch is lifted into view in front of a casket-like set built on a series of satined platforms lined with rows of sparkling spotlights it becomes apparent she’s not visiting our world. We’re entering hers, deep diving into a glittery, rock hard collection of songs that are a combination of precious heirlooms like ‘Mother’ and dress jewellery like ‘Drumming Song’.
There’s a feeling of dress-up to tonight. When Florence leans her fragile, silk trouser suited frame into the crowd you realise the hands reaching out are women’s; girls, mums and daughters – and that they don’t so much want to touch her as become her.
It’s wish fulfillment too. Florence is a great fairy godmother – encouraging us to jump on one another’s shoulders prior to a thrilling ‘Rabbit Heart’ or take off our clothes before ‘Dog Days Are Over’. Amy is gone, Adele is missing; the throne for Queen of Pop is empty. But the glitz of this show can’t compete with the elemental rain dance Florence stomps out at the climax of ‘Drumming Song’. She’s a grand pop star but she’s at her best when she’s the wind-like voice in the King’s ear. The power behind the throne. The jewel in the crown.