On January 16th Florence + The Machine performed in The Botanic Park supported by Marlon Williams, and Leon Bridges.
Prior to this concert I hadn’t heard any of Marlon Williams’ music and unfortunately I arrived late and only got to catch the last few songs; however those songs were enough to make me disappointed that I missed the rest. With a voice comparable to that of Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison, Marlon Williams dominated the air waves with his smooth chesty singing. The music followed suit with a similar bluesy/folk style which was incredibly dynamic and ebbed and flowed with Williams’ vocals. With just a few songs they were able to gain a new fan, so I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t heard him to check him out!
While I was disappointed that Billie Eilish pulled out of the support role, when I found out Leon Bridges was replacing her I was equally excited. He burst onto the stage in a completely white outfit as he blessed the crowd with his trademark soul/funk/R&B fusion. His smooth vocals pierced though the heat and frequent patches of rain to keep the crowd moving. As he progressed further into his set you could see both him and the members of his band getting more and more into the music. After around thirty minutes of jamming, the band walked off stage and Leon remained with one female vocalist and his guitar. He then proceeded to play a beautiful rendition of arguably his most popular song River to end his set.
As the sky got darker, the lights got brighter and the electric anticipation of the crowd could be felt in the air. Finally after what felt like an eternity out came Florence Welch in a beautiful white flowing dress. There was no need for introduction as she and the band burst straight into their set and played three or four songs before interacting with the audience. However the crowd was more than happy with that as everyone revelled at the energy and passion that Florence + The Machine expelled into the atmosphere of the Botanic Park. I was also pleasantly surprised when Florence began dancing about the stage; flowing effortlessly from one side of the stage to the other. Treading lightly on her bare feet with the finesse of a ballet dancer, she gracefully pirouetted and spun about the stage with her white dress flowing behind her like a river made of silk.
When she took a break to interact with the audience, anyone who hadn’t heard her speak before would have been shocked by the juxtaposition. While her singing is incredibly deep and full, her speaking voice is quite dainty with a very prominent English accent. However her self admitted shyness didn’t stop her from connecting well with the audience, she played into it and used it to create an ethereal dream like feeling amongst the crowd. This drew everyone into every word she said. She spoke about what it was like growing up in London and some hardships she’d been through. Wanting the crowd to fully appreciate the experience, she asked everyone to put their phones down and live in the moment for the next song. Once all eyes were on her she started performing their most well known song Dog Days Are Over, which had the crowd belting out the lyrics and jumping about. It was definitely one of the highlights of the night.
This gig was an incredible experience I won’t soon forget it. All three acts were amazingly entertaining and interacted with the crowd expertly. The audio was very clear and balanced, and with screens set up around the park everyone was able to get a good view. My only complaint is that the lighting effects were quite simplistic, although it could be seen that this just emphasised Florence’s stunning voice even more.
Header Credit: Jonathan James