Florence and the Machine @ Alexandra Palace 8th March 2012

After having missed out on the Ceremonials album launch at Hackney Empire last year left me anticipating the full blown tour. So at the end of December the dates were confirmed and Flo was set to perform 2 nights at London’s Alexandra Palace. As I hadn’t seen her play since 2010 I therefore decided to snap up both days on the Flotique pre sale. If it wasn’t for a friend mentioning just keep refreshing till a ticket appears then I wouldn’t of been able to get tickets for both Thursday and Friday. Fast forward to March and I turned up at the venue just before 11am. I was 4th in the queue and the first two girls were Irish fans and had been there since 8am. Basically Alexandra Palace is in the middle of no where. If you wanted to go to the shops you would have to take the W3 bus back to Wood Green. Barriers then got set up around 1pm and the fact they chose not to snake it but instead make three individual rows (which would open at the same time) did puzzle me greatly. After the hardcore Flo fans had mentioned to the security guard that we had in fact been queuing for a long time it was then decided that us lot would be given a head start. Come 6pm the first 26 people went up to the doors and waited for the green light. There were around 10 security guards whom checked bags and ripped the ticket stubs. So come to think about it we weren’t given that much of a head start. Once inside everyone needed to go through two individual rooms to get to the main Arena. When we had reached the second room everyone started to run to the doors which was manned by a security guard. From what I have heard one girl fell flat on her face when everyone started to run to those doors. Lets cut to the chase the people who arrived early were basically done over. The man on the door didn’t even have a walkie talky yet the guy manning the middle door (who had just arrived did). Basically the people queueing at the middle door were inside a good couple of minutes before us. Once the door was prised open everyone bundled through to see a good 100 people already at the front. At this point there were plenty of annoyed people. One of the Irish girls whom arrived at 8am was in tears and honestly that is not on. Fans of the artist turn up early because they want to be close to the one that they love. They want to have a good view and they want to take good photos. To be honest I was furious and it showed that they don’t really care. They just want everyone in as quickly as possible. The one thing that gets me is WHY did no one tell us that we were at the wrong door. This may have been some fans first time at Alexandra Palace so they just follow the signs (the middle door doesn’t even have a sign saying Arena and that is why people ran to the one on the far right). Once inside I found myself just left of the microphone but 2nd row. During the run to the barrier I had got separated from my friends whom got barrier but far right. This was slightly annoying as I had no one to talk to plus I didn’t have anything to hold on to. In all honesty this fiasco did slightly put a dampener on the whole evening.

Supporting Florence for the first night at Alexandra Palace were both Spector and The Horrors. I had previously saw Spector support Slow Club support at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last year and I immediately fell in love with the material which was sung. This 5 piece indie rock band comprised of Frederick Macpherson (vocals), Christopher Burman (guitar), Thomas Shickle (bass), Jed Cullen (synth, guitar) and Danny Blandy (drums). Macpherson used to be in Folk Rock band Ox. Eagle. Lion. Man whom I saw support Lightspeed Champion back at Koko in 2008. The set played was short and sweet. Only 7 songs were performed but they offered insight to what the debut album would sound like. Each song went down extremely well but it was Chevy Thunder which everyone sang along to. When Frederick was singing I could hear traces of Brandon Flowers/ The Vaccines. The performance was electric/ energetic and captivated me from beginning to end. I most definitely want to see Spector play in the nearby future.

SET LIST

What You Wanted
Friday Night
Grey Shirt and Tie
Celestine
Lay Low
Chevy Thunder
Never Fade Away

Two years had gone by since I last saw Florence headline the 4Music stage at V Festival in 2010. This time she is back with the sophomore album Ceremonials and this was the first time I had heard these new tracks performed live. I unfortunately missed out on the Hackney Empire album launch at the end of last year. This made me anticipate this set even more (hence why I decided to queue early). The stage was plunged into blue and the band then took their places. Then there was a silhoutte of Welch and she then made her entrance. The crowd were literally going wild. Things kicked off with Only For A Night. This song is extremely different compared to material from the début effort Lungs. For starters this song had a heavy beat plus at the same time it was extremely dark as it was implying a death. Florence was wearing a black robe and sang this song to perfection. It was then straight into the first single to be taken from Ceremonials and this being What The Water Gave Me. You could tell that Welch put everything into this crowd pleasing song. The atmosphere was simply electric and we were only two songs into what was a phenomenal evening. This was a smooth song which had lyrics which were delivered powerfully. Florence then sang Seven Devils immediately after. This song oozed gothicness plus it was very eerie at the same time. Welch’s vocal performance was simply spine tingling. “Thankyou so much for having us we’re Florence and the Machine” Welch said before getting stuck into Between Two Lungs which was taken from her break though album Lungs. This song was extremely light and slightly haunting at the same time. Florence’s vocals were slightly operatic and also it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser. It was then into the beautiful ballad Cosmic Love. Everyone was singing along to this song. Only this performance was different and it was down to the fact it had been extended. Still this song was packed with a punch and was rather infectious. It was straight into Shake It Out and again there was plenty of singing along. This was a fun pop song with luscious lyrics that fit perfectly with the melody. The song itself is rather catchy and is one of my favourites that feature on Ceremonials. If there is one song you expect to hear at a Florence and the Machine gig it would have to be Dog Days Are Over. This epic song was delivered with plenty of energy. “How are you London? Thankyou so much for having us here. I was wondering if we could do something together London” Florence said to the packed audience. This being jumping up and down on the spot. So during the last chunk of Dog Days the crowds atmosphere went up a notch. The whole orchestra came into play for the fantastic Breaking Down. This song was a slice of pop perfection. Breaking Down was both up tempo and very upbeat.

“This is the part of the show where we realise there’s an awful lot of you and I’m wearing a catsuit. Thankyou so much for coming tonight for our first London show. This is a big night for all of us” Florence went onto say before pointing out her Mum and Dad were in the crowd. Welch also told the crowd she saw Arcade Fire at Alexandra Palace but was standing right at the back. “Speaking of touring and being away and we’re just to start a lot more of that. I wrote this song when I was kind of thinking about touring a lot, travelling and what ties you to home and family and ones you love. Then I obviously added parts about animals entrails as I usually do. This is about your loved ones” Florence then went onto say before an acoustic version of Heart Lines. “This one’s for my family. Not the bloody bits”. This was an excellent song. The bloody bits appear during the first verse but my favourite part of this song had to be the chorus. Parts of this song reminded me of when KT Tunstall uses her loop pedal during her gigs. It was then onto another acoustic song and this being the closing number on Ceremonials Leave My Body. This song was rather haunting plus there was a gospel feel to it. There was a string introduction for You’ve Got The Love. This emotional ballad was a real crowd pleaser. This song had a slow pace and then when the band came in it gained more power. “Thankyou so much London. Today is International Women’s Day. If you have a lady in the audience get her on your shoulders” Florence said before the penultimate song Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). You feel obliged to sing along to this contagious song. The chorus had to be the best part as it oozed plenty of energy. The evening was wrapped up with a full blown version of Spectrum. The band then left the stage only to return a couple of minutes later. Kicking off this encore was All This & Heaven. I found this to be rather entrancing and the melody was sublime. No Light No Light was immediately after and this crowd pleasing song was extremely powerful. Things were then capped off with the forthcoming single Never Let Go.

SET LIST

Only For A Night
What The Water Gave Me
Seven Devils
Between Two Lungs
Cosmic Love
Shake It Out
Dog Days Are Over
Breaking Down
Heart Lines
Leave My Body
You’ve Got The Love
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Spectrum

ENCORE

All This & Heaven
No Light No Light
Never Let Go

OVERALL: I had never attended a music event at Alexandra Palace before and I was well and truly shocked how poor the loyal fans who turned up early were treated. Fair enough the first 26 people got a head start but really they should of let us get inside the venue before opening up the other two lanes. I was also puzzled to why we weren’t guided to the right door. Someone should of at least said that we were at the wrong entrance. It would have been a lot more easier and stress free if they just adopted the snaking system. The evening was superb but for me this put a dampener on the whole night because you want to queue to be near to the artist that you love. Aside from all of that Alexandra Palace is a beautiful venue. The support bands Spector and The Horrors were amazing. As for Florence the set was simply breathtaking and the way the stage was laid out was superb. Welch played for just under 2 hours finishing at 11pm. A number of songs had been extended making this evening rather epic.

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