Florence & The Machine a perfect fit for Halloween

A review of Florence & The Machine at the House of Blues on October 31, 2010

, Managing Editor

One could not have asked for a more fitting night to have Florence & The Machine stop in Boston than Halloween. As if the holiday didn’t already cast a sinister air over the evening, Florence Welch and her band kept to the spirit of the celebration with the principally dark material off their 2009 debut, Lungs.

Miss Welch said it best herself when she explained, “I guess we’re a real Halloween-themed band. We have songs about hell, death, coffins, etc.”. Although some of the group’s music bears a darker tone, it’s the combination of Welch’s angelic voice and drummer Chris Hayden’s rich and vigorous beats that keep Florence & the Machine’s sound from being gothic rock. Although they were dressed for it, with Florence outfitted like some sort of zombie princess and her backing band decked out in skeleton costumes.

On top of the costumes, Florence kicked up the theatrics on numerous occasions, twirling about and stalking the stage like a specter. The most dramatic performance was during “Blinding” as the song began with Flo donning a hooded cape in the middle of the dark stage and concluded with her voice soaring over Hayden’s thumping beat as she bashed away on a drum herself.

Welch preceded “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” by introducing keyboardist/collaborator Isabella “Machine” Summers as the song was the first the two wrote together. Welch also got the crowd to serenade Summers with their “scariest rendition” of “Happy Birthday” as Halloween marked her 30th birthday.

The band played nearly every song off of Lungs, and still stayed true to the dark theme with newer tracks “Heavy In Your Arms” and “Strangeness and Charm”, the latter being performed in the U.S. for the first time ever.

As the band returned for the encore it was unsure whether they would break character a bit for their poppy lead single “Kiss With A Fist” but after guitarist Robert Ackroyd unleashed a wah-flavored intro, the group kicked into the track for one of the lighter moments of the evening. The show then culminated with their biggest hit “Dog Days Are Over” as the floor at the House of Blues rumbled along with Hayden’s drums as fans leapt for joy.

Florence & the Machine are becoming quite the hot commodity these days, clearly evidenced by their emergence on American radio and Sunday’s sold out gig. They’ve already been tapped to open for U2 at several US stadium shows next year. After rocking us on Halloween, it would be nice if we got an early Christmas gift as well with Boston being added to their 2011 plans.

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