Florence + The Machine at Spark Arena: March 21, 2023

Florence + The Macine

Florence + The Machine closed out their Dance Fever Tour in Auckland and gave it their all. And we gave it back.

Despite a traffic alert along with another downpour, Florence Welch proved that she is a force of nature herself as she whirled, ran, sang and shouted for almost two hours in front of (and in the middle of) a sold out Spark Arena.

King PrincessKing Princess

Up first (and early) was Brooklyn’s King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) who got the party started with a hard rocking set featuring debut single, 1950, newest release, The Bend and Prophet featuring a guest appearance by Florence herself! Needless to say, the crowd loved it and were suitably warmed up (and dried out).

Florence + The Machine

Florence + The MachineAt 8:50, the lights dimmed and a cheer went up as Florence + The Machine took the stage opening with Heaven Is Here from last year’s Dance Fever album. Florence was radiant in a flowing, transparent pinkish/purple gown. She held the crowd in the palm of her hand from the very beginning and never let go.

An early highlight was King with its strident lyrics (sung powerfully), ‘I am no mother, I am no bride, I am king’.

Much has been written about Florence’s voice, but after hearing songs like King, Girls Against God and Morning Elvis, its clear this singer has something to say and her fans are on board, singing along, dancing and cheering throughout the show.

And there is no doubt that Florence has plenty of fans here in New Zealand. I (and many others) first saw her in 2011 at the first Laneway Festival in Auckland. Since then, she’s built on that appearance, last playing here again at Laneway in 2019. I think this will be the fourth time I’ve seen her.

It may also be the best.

By the third song, Ship To Wreck, everyone was standing.

“I’m on fire, but I’m trying not to show it”, she sang, dashing across the stage, obviously picking up a few moves from Mick Jagger (learn from the best).

Most of Dance Fever was played, but the old favourites were not forgotten.   A cheer went up as the first notes were played of Dog Days Are Over, the band’s first big hit and the crowd was on their feet once more for You’ve Got The Love.

I think my personal favourite came midway through the set with Morning Elvis. It’s a less bombastic tune than some of the others, the lyrics reflect on how important performing is to the singer and the more intimate sound helped connect with the audience on a deeper level.

Florence + The Machine

 

“I want you to give me everything that you’ve got!” demanded Florence.

In fact, Florence had quite a few demands, telling us to put away our phones early in the set, ‘so we can have a collective experience’, then telling us to take them out and wave our torches during Cosmic Love.

But she gave as good as she demanded…jumping into the crowd, hugging, then running through the middle of the venue as her security guards struggled to keep up with her.

In the end, it was a beautiful, communal experience.

The three-song encore ended with Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and the last line sung was a tender “This is a gift” with a rippling harp sending us home.

Marty Duda

All photos courtesy: Chontalle Musson

Click on any image to view a photo gallery of King Princess:

Florence + The Machine Setlist:
  1. Heaven Is Here
  2. King
  3. Ship To Wreck
  4. Free
  5. Daffodil
  6. Dog Days Are Over
  7. Girls Against God
  8. Dream Girl Evil
  9. Prayer Factory
  10. Big God
  11. What Kind Of Man
  12. Morning Elvis
  13. June
  14. Hunger
  15. You’ve Got The Love
  16. Choreomania
  17. Kiss With A Fist
  18. Cosmic Love
  19. My Love
  20. Restraint
  21. Never Let Me Go
  22. Shake It Out
  23. Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Marty Duda
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