Don Emmert, Getty Images CRISTINA JALERU, Associated Press: Various Artists,…
- Posted on May 9th 2012 11:41AM by Jessica Misener
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
"If you're with a lady and you like her or you love her, we'd like her to get on your shoulders," Welch told the audience gathered there, a smile fighting its way across her face. One by one in the stately concert hall, women climbed onto their male companions' necks, festival style, and started waving their arms as Welch and her band launched into "Rabbit Heart."
The acrobatics were all to get a better glimpse of Florence Welch, better known as Florence + the Machine, who brought her catalog of romantic pop dirges to a sold-out show at Radio City. "Whenever I come to New York, I never seem to get any sleep!" she bemoaned to the crowd, which included Katy Perry and Nick Lachey, later. (This writer spied her on the Met Gala red carpet last night and suspects she was partying with Beyonce until the wee hours.)
Regardless of her level of hangover, Welch made a brisk and routine tear through the hits on her sophomore record Ceremonials, sprinkling in a few tracks from her debut Lungs ("Cosmic Love," "Dog Days Are Over"). In the three years since Lungs, she's honed her act a bit, the sparkly pop songs dimming down into gloomier investigations of subjects like drowning ("What the Water Gave Me") and more complex arrangements. Offstage, she's become something of a fashion icon, performing at a Chanel show and draping herself in Gucci and Balenciaga. In other words: Florence Welch has become a bona fide star.
But foremost, Welch, 25, has stitched together an award-winning musical career by pouring her Annie Lennox howl into secular gospel music, all flowing dresses and rapturous stares and lyrics about light and salvation and the cosmos. Tuesday night was no exception, as a stained glass window backdrop further extricated the point that Welch was trying to turn things into Radio City Megachurch, minus the religion.
Fuse TV was livestreaming the concert, which may have explained why the setlist felt a bit too rushed. Still, the show smartly remained focused on its star. Her band, which includes three backup singers and a harpist, practically becomes part of the scenery; clad in all black, they sink into the background as Welch sprints from one side of the stage to the other like an excited child playing tag. And it was often for the better, as her powerhouse voice sometimes threatened to overshadow the perfunctory instrumentation.
"Thank you, New York!" Welch crowed at the end of the set, finally catching a breather after jumping and literally running around the plush Radio City stage for an hour straight. (The people perched on shoulders had long since descended.) She then spread her arms and flitted off stage, her long white sleeves flapping behind her, like she was a bohemian version of Batman.