After great pain a formal feeling comes–
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions–was it He that bore?
And yesterday–or centuries before?
The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow–
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
So it was another mission up to the Ally Pally on Friday night, sustained this time by an Aberdeen Angus New York Steak meal to see the greatest pair of legs in music today, Florence and her machine. I saw Florence originally at Lovebox in 2009 and enjoyed her set, even though I had not previously heard any of her stuff. This time round I had lungs, but had not heard any of her new stuff.
We got there earlier and moved up towards the front, just in time to see the Horrors (a bit like Suede, only not as good) before a falling curtain revealed Florence’s set, in all it’s 1930’s style glory.
Backed by a choir, and string section, Florence kicked off in fine form, and her all encompassing black outfit giving her the air of a medieval sorcerer as she flitted around the stage. After shedding the flowing cape, Florence seemed to lighten up, and by the time the intro to Dog Days crashed through she was as warmed up as the crowd, getting the whole of Ally Pally jumping as if horses were chasing us through the hall. It was like a big finale, only 5 songs in, I was half expecting her to take her bows and exit stage left. Later on Rabbit Heart was kicked off after guys were encouraged to get the girls on their shoulders (it was, after all, a song for the girls).
And there were no gripes about the crowd this time, a lot of women, a lot of parents with kids, a fair few daises in hair, and also a lot more dudes than I would have guessed. When she finally addressed the crowd I found her voice and down to earth manner refreshing – “You’ve come all the way from Malta? That’s a long way…well this is the Alexandra Palace”.
I can’t say much about the songs, as I don’t really know them, but they were standard Florence fair, delivered as she flitted around the stage like a nymph at some Dionysian party. The Encore kicked off with You’ve got the Love, which the crowd joined in with as girls flung their arms round each other like it was 2am on a Sunday morning and it didn’t matter that he hadn’t called, or couples stood swaying, wrapped up in each others arms, oblivious to everyone but Florence. Sadly crowds were streaming out by that point though, the Ally Pally is only in notionally in London after all and it’s a trek to get back..