In a venue tucked under the Brighton promenade lays a stage littered with flowers and empty bird cages. Faded bunting stretches out above the audience and tangles in amongst the gothic wrought iron arches and pillars. As the sun fades outside, its last throws of light illuminate the stained glass alcoves, throwing an eerie light across the room.
Florence and her band take to the stage in a swirl of fog and launch into a set list that includes most of the tracks from her forthcoming debut album Lungs (out July 6th). “I’ve just been singing about coffins... now I’m going to sing about cutting someone’s eye out,” giggles Florence after paying homage to the gothic splendour of the venue as she leaps from My Boy Builds Coffins in to Girl With One Eye.
It’s testament to Florence that the crowd remains transfixed despite not yet being familiar with over half of the songs. Each track is performed with powerful vocals and a dramatic stage presence which sets Florence apart from many of her contemporaries. Her enjoyment of performing each song to the maximum both in terms of vocals and movement is refreshing.
Where many bands perform their most well-known songs with tour-weary reluctance, Florence rips hers up with all the excitement of a child tearing wrapping paper off a particularly large present, and seems delighted that the gathered crowd are enjoying her work. Recent release Dog Days Are Over, new single Rabbit Heart (out June 21st) and her cover of club classic You’ve Got The Love generate a rousing response from the audience, as does a screaming rendition of Kiss With A Fist.
Maybe it’s because I’m at a gig in Brighton instead of London for the first time in ages, but there is a distinct lack of pretention to proceedings tonight which gives the gig a feel of those from the early 2000s - before the big “indie” boom. On the whole, the audience are wearing what they want rather than what they feel they should. Couple this with Florence’s disarmingly friendly banter with the crowd and it becomes crystal clear why this gig was one of the best I’ve been to in a long time.
Florence has come a very long way since I first saw her (with Dev Hynes as ‘the Machine’) at a free festival back in 2007, and I would thoroughly recommend you seek her out this summer. Do yourself a favour though, and approach her as an artist in her own right, not as one of “2009’s top tips” or as a member of the infuriating “new females” clan (female is not a genre).
Keep an eye on Shoegazer Fashion for Poppy's review of the night (and Florence's outfit!)
Review in brief:
Venue: Refreshingly un-corporate! Good size for an intimate gig. Bad toilets.
Gig expereince as a whole: A perfect end to Florence’s tour and a perfect way to introduce us to her debut album. Uplifting, dramatic and unpretentious.