When Florence Welch first hit these shores from Britain two years back with her stunningly beautiful “Dog Days Are Over,” it was a revelation. Yet another Brit-singer was making noise here across the pond.
She debuted last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and was suitably humble. In fact, she kept saying she couldn’t believe she was at such prestigious venue.
Truth be told, most of her significant shows up till now have been at various music festivals around the world, including last week’s New Orleans Jazz Fest.
She opened with a personal favorite of mine, “Only If For A Night,” from her second album, and immediately had the audience in her hand. She was backed by an eight-piece band, featuring keyboardist Isabella “Machine” Summers, and a wondrous harpist. But make no mistake, her voice is the star of the show.
She’s a compelling presence on stage, twisting and turning in rather unexpected ways, a whirling dervish, for sure. “Shake It Out,” “Never Let Me Go” and “No Light, No Light” were delivered in spectacular fashion.
The stage setting was minimalist, but the lighting was just standout, lending even more atmosphere to the almost-church-like experience. Also standout was her rendition of “What The Water Gave Me,” delicious and perfect.
Her sound is a terrifically percussive cross between Enya and U2. And, that voice! Almost heaven-sent.
Her first album, Lungs, spawned several hit singles, such as “Rabbit Heart,” “Kiss With a Fist” and “You Got The Love.” It also introduced a fiery new artist, looking like a red-haired amazon with pipes almost beyond belief.
Welch’s songs also have become popular favorites on television shows like “Glee” and “Gossip Girls.”
On the big screen, her single “Heavy in Your Arms” made the soundtrack for “Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” while the band’s biggest hit, “Dog Days Are Over,” was on the trailer for Julia Roberts’ movie, “Eat, Pray, Love.” She also has a song on the “Snow White and the Huntsman” soundtrack.
In Nov. 2010, Welch debuted in the United States on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and followed up on “Saturday Night Live.” I was struck but how fragile, yet forceful her presence was. Backed by an impressive band, which featured a harpist, whose delicate flourishes made her music sound even more ethereal, her SNL performance was beyond comparison.
Her second album, Ceremonials was released last October, and is more of the same. Welch said she wanted the album to be a better version of Lungs with a “more dark, more heavy, bigger drum sounds, bigger bass, but with more of a whole sound.”
In all, a tremendous show and a tremendous artist. Check out a clip of the show below: