Florence Welch, the bewitching siren at the helm of Florence and the Machine, wrote her fifth album Dance Fever as an ode to what it felt like to share live music with people. It’s the type of pandemic-created album that was built for a moment like this: Welch and her band headlining an intimate show at New York’s Alice Tully Hall in front of a sea of fans dressed like the cast of Euphoria were headed to a Renaissance Faire.
Ahead of Dance Fever’s release next week, the group hosted a string of “warm-up” shows in London, Los Angeles and New York as a preview of both the new music and the much bigger tour to come this fall. Alice Tully, Lincoln Center’s concert hall, and its cathedral-sized pipe organ that flanks the stage matched the type of spiritual, ceremonial energy Welch and her band brought to the show.
Barefoot and wearing the most perfectly bellowing crimson dress, Welch kicked off the concert with a pair of new songs. The percussive, ferocious “Heaven Is Here” cast a spell over the crowd before she launched into the excellent, evocative “King.” The song was the first taste of new music that fans heard this year, and they perfectly belted the lyrics back at her.
The show was largely a greatest hits playlist, perfectly distributing her love across her entire discography. “What Kind of Man” and “Kiss With a Fist” were reminders that beneath the witch-y baroque exterior, Welch is a rock and roll singer first and foremost. During “Fist,” she invited the audience “to really let it out,” which they did consistently throughout the show, injecting the theater with a heavy dose of energy.
When she’s not showing off that booming voice of hers, Welch is quite soft-spoken, almost shockingly so. She has a bit of a shy streak at well, looking overcome with emotion as the audience cheers became louder in the silence between tracks. She shared multiple stories about her anxiety, including how she almost lost her ring in a gutter earlier that morning. She dedicated the ensuing song about anxiety (“Free”) to New York City.
Before debuting “Girls Against God,” a song about her Biblical anger towards the sky during the height of the pandemic, she spoke assertively in support of Roe v. Wade. “So many things done in the name of God are about domination,” she told the audience. “I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone fighting for their right to choose.” She stood still with a raised fist at various moments throughout the track.
“Standing still” is not the typical mode for Welch, who is an energetic performer who runs and skips across the stage, all while holding massive notes. During “What the Water Gave Me,” she went full Stevie Nicks with her tambourine, spinning around in front of her band. She often communed closely with the first few rows, grabbing their hands and kneeling on the stage to sing directly into their faces.
The set featured a couple special surprises. As she teased performing a song she hadn’t done live in nearly a decade until this mini-tour, one fan spoiled that it was “Never Let Me Go.” Before explaining that she hated the song for a long time until she realized how much it meant to her fans, Welch joked about some other possibilities for deep cuts to pull from her discography. She ended up singing a bit of “Howl” from Lungs a cappella before launching into “Never Let Me Go.”
For the encore, Welch kicked it off with a city-appropriate track from 2018’s High as Hope, the dreamy, New York-set “The End of Love.” Then, her harp player signaled the beginning of “Dog Days Are Over” which got the audience so pumped it was shocking that the Brutalist building didn’t crumble from the joy.
For the final few moments, she enacted a long-held tradition of requesting that the audience put their phones away, live in the moment and jump as much as they can for the rest of the song. Of course, the fans listened. Phones were tucked away, so instead of the bobbing of a camera app it was just hair and flower crowns floating in the air. Everyone was so caught in the moment that even as she said good night right after, everyone’s hands were still free to clap as hard as they could for her.
Florence + the Machine Set List
“Heaven Is Here”
“What Kind of Man”
“Kiss With a Fist”
“Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
“What the Water Gave Me”
“Girls Against God”
“Ship to Wreck”
“Never Let Me Go”
“Queen of Peace”
“Shake It Out”
“The End of Love”
“Dog Days Are Over”