Florence + the Machine has been rocking our world since its 2009 debut album, “Lungs,” introduced the ultimate banger, “Dog Days Are Over.” We spent our formative years finding new meanings in frontwoman Florence Welch’s all-knowing anthems that feature symphonic builds, grandiose lyrics and belting choirs. So last weekend, these two Texans decided to find their way to Glasgow, Scotland, to see the band perform for its most recent album, “High as Hope.”
Unfortunately, we soon discovered that Scottish concertgoers aren’t unlike those untrained heathens at concerts back in the states. Florence + the Machine’s performance was as otherworldly and awe-inspiring as we dreamed it would be, and we’ll get back to that — but first, there’s a bit of complaining to do! Let’s continue, for instance, the ever-worn debate over whether tall people are obliged to stand further back from the front of the stage so everyone can get a fair view. We’d say yes. How does every middle-aged bald man over six feet tall find their way right in front of us? Must be a coincidence, but let’s implement this policy in all concert venues worldwide — just to be safe.
Next, let’s talk drinking. One of the worst concepts ever invented was open drinking containers in dark, crowded spaces. Not only did we witness many spillage crimes during the concert, but we also were victim to a particularly nasty slosh in the middle of one of the best songs of the night. We had to stop enjoying the performance to assess the damage and find a new dry place to stand. The drinks also encouraged many fellow concertgoers to get a little too talkative for our comfort. One of the previously mentioned baldies had a few too many and persistently tried to talk both (both!) of us up for the entire night although he was there with his girlfriend.
One of our favorite parts of the night was when Welch politely insisted that everyone in the arena put their phones away — it was so great to be so connected to the performance and the energy of the crowd while we all belted along the lyrics to “Dogs Days Are Over.” It felt so good to not worry about capturing a moment, which left us free to enjoy it instead. But then, two songs later, we watched the same bald man waving his arm around, blocking our view, for a three-minute long video while the time in the corner remained at 00:00. Truly heartbreaking, yet equally hilarious to witness.
But hey, we digress. We actually spent the vast majority of that night not distracted by audience members’ questionable decisions, but enchanted with the heavenly being that is frontwoman Florence Welch.
Florence Welch is an undeniably powerful force. She is tall with flowing red hair, sharp cheekbones and a calm, focused composure. Each dress she wears on her High as Hope tour is ankle-length and very sheer, but Welch somehow makes near-nakedness look not provocative at all. Rather, the look is dream-like: the dress drips from her body and floats when she dances, becoming a natural extension of her movement and her music. At every moment, it’s clear Welch was born for the stage: she riots across it, back and forth, up and down, as if she just can’t suppress the all of music inside of her.
Florence + the Machine’s Glasgow performance brilliantly juxtaposed musical intensity with visual simplicity. Welch put her soul into each held-out note, yet there were no costume changes, and the main prop consisted of plain, creamy white banners that floated down from the ceiling, reminiscent of linen curtains blowing in the breeze. The result was a concert experience as stark, warm and luxurious as sitting by a fireplace on a rainy November evening. Each song Welch sang was momentous and sweeping; each note delivered emotion and grace. Many times we found ourselves swept up by waves of awe, love, grief and anger — just to name a few.
Adding to the warm atmosphere was the gratitude Welch expressed throughout the show, which made us feel grateful in turn to be in the audience, experiencing her talent. Glasgow was not just a stop on an endless tour for Welch. She reflected on her personal connection to the city: her Granny Sybil, for example, was from Glasgow, and once came to her in a dream to tell her to stop drinking and “Concentrate!” The first time the band performed in Glasgow, they slept in a camper van that fans climbed all over after the show. “Who was at that show?” Welch asked the audience, and a fair amount of people cheered.
When Welch said she was thankful that we were there, and when she said she was so happy to be on that stage, we believed her because she connected in such a meaningful way.
The nostalgia factor was very real at this concert as well. Our middle school selves, buried deep inside us always, woke up and sang along to those classic 2009 hits like “Lungs” and “Cosmic Love.”
We found that, as fun as it can be to discover new bands and explore new places, seeing Florence + the Machine felt like coming home despite every distraction — even in a city thousands of miles away from Texas.