Florence + the Machine at Brockton Fields, 9/8/18
Florence Welch was meant to belt it out on an outdoor stage in a park, with a city skyline behind her and the ground still damp from a pounding rainfall.
That was the scene last night at day two of the Skookum Festival (Sept. 8). Florence + the Machine do not often make their way to Vancouver, and hearing Welch’s voice reverberate through the air during the day’s headlining set was a pretty magical experience.
Welch broke into “June” from her new album High as Hope first. She ran the length of the stage throughout the set in a vintage-looking long satin and lace frock- barefooted and flaunting a brooch on her chest. Welch has an all-natural vibe about her – red hair wild and loose, and barely any makeup to speak of.
“Only If For a Night” was a welcome orchestral choice, and really encouraged some sing-back action from the crowd. The set lacked much else from 2011’s Ceremonials, but that was really the only disappointment. The band moved from “Sweet Nothing,” to “Dog Days Are Over” and the heart wrenching “What Kind of Man,” much to the delight of the Skookum crowd.
The Skyline stage is hands-down the best stage to be facing at the inaugural festival. Many festival-goers, tired and inebriated, could be seen swaying on the hill overlooking the stage, taking in Welch’s other-worldly voice. Welch’s speaking voice was a major contrast to her powerful straight-off-the-moors style singing voice. It was sweet and almost whispery. She implored the crowd to lift each other up on their shoulders, and sing back to her.
Welch journeyed into the crowd at a few points, not missing a single note as she continued through a small selection of her impressive discography. “Patricia” was a stellar choice from High as Hope, given it’s written about the iconic Patti Smith. An artist who, like Welch, is a non-stop creative machine. “Cosmic Love” from the early Florence + the Machine days was a surprise, and a great one at that.
Unlike other acts at the festival, Florence + the Machine did an encore. “Big God” is possibly the most strong and impactful song from the new album, and fit perfectly. The group closed off with “Shake it Off,” and festival-goers left enchanted. Hopefully that enchantment stayed intact as they braved the crowds and over-stuffed buses home.