Florence and The Machine – Thekla 28/02/08

One joy of gig going is such; seeing people you probably haven’t heard of, or indeed heard more than the barest sample of.  Reason; even if they’re less than perfect, or even more or less shit, you never know where they’re going to end up (look at Amy Winehouse! Oh! etc).
The only thing better than seeing someone so joyfully terrible it can strengthen your faith in God, is when you see an act that you can just tell are going to have what it takes to succeed.   Microclimate style, it was strange to watch the interest grow so quickly in this little drummer girl.  As Florence herself pointed out, it looked like she’d be playing to an empty boat for a while.  But, to extend a nautical theme, the crowds were soon lured as strongly as sailors to a sirens call.  No doubt people found it difficult to connect that this soulful, carrying voice was coming from the same girl with a drum onstage.

Florence has this oddly diminutive presence when she performs; dressed in day-glo-cum-quasi-vintage, spanking a drum, it’s like watching a life-sized version of Angelica from the Rugrats demanding attention (quote; “I’ll bang my drum to shut you up” – if that doesn’t do it for you, nothing will).  Importantly, she could be 4ft high and made of wood, and you’d still be drawn to her just from the voice alone.  This is soulful stuff; none of the whiney, precocious Kate-nashey/Lilyey-Alleney fare that’s dominated recently; vocals that grab you by your throat, or any extremity of your choice, sits you down and shuts you up so you can listen.  Most pop music commands a vacuous fascination; indie commands pity; Florence commands respect.  Think Nina Simone meets Kate; sorry, Nina Simone, fucking Kate Nash, while on pills.

Adele, and others, have shown that the next thing coming up will no doubt be a wave of this brand of very forthright female vocalists.  But where that Londoner songstress goes for the heartstrings, there’s so much more of an inherent cheer with FATM.  Live, she brought a beautiful energy with her; how many artists could remain blase and cheerful in the face of a big empty boat?  Or not bat an eyelid when bantering with the more manic elements of the crowd?  I only wish I’d taken her up on her offer of a snotty tissue, or some information about books on paedophiles.  Artists are supposed to be a distant ideal, not feel like they’re your best friend!  If I was going to guess what the planned cover was, I’d never have even suggested Girls Aloud single ‘Can’t Speak French‘, but she did it; that’s a real sign of someone who doesn’t care about convention.  Fuck it, Nina Simone, fucking Kate Nash, while on pills, over the corpses of Girls Aloud.  With a drumstick or something.

I hope I can say that ‘I was there’ before FATM was famous.  She deserves to be, and there must be bright things ahead. It’ll be the siren metaphor all over again; a slow, but unstoppable growth of interest.  When someone can make you feel you’re watching high-quality stadium-soul, in a disused steamer bright lights beckon.

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2 Responses to “Florence and The Machine – Thekla 28/02/08”

  1. Alex Mei Turney Says:

    Well buddy, I was there, you were there and she is famous now.

    • davemcleod Says:

      Alex! I feel an OMG is appropriate. How are you? I had forgotten about this blog. I no longer book-face but I’m around at twitter.com/davemcleod, or email at dave.mcleod@me.com. I feel like you’re maybe the only person I’ve known who I can easily imagine going on to have an interesting life, would love to hear from you etc. Hope everything is going great.

      And yeah, we were totally there before she was famous. I’m legit-pleased about that. It remains a good factoid to slip into conversation when Florence and Her Machine becomes a topic.

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