Ask any experienced concertgoer out there, and they’ll tell you about the religious aspect of live music. The sense of community, the emotional journeys, the passionate singing by both the band and the crowd like a hyminal. In the right setting, a concert can be just as much of a religious experience in a hockey stadium as it is in a church itself.
Last night, the Xcel energy center was that right setting. Florence + The Machine stood under a large collection of white painted chandeliers, boxed in by a large wall molding, and scattered around the stage next to, and behind, what appeared to be a throne of the same chandeliers. And like a disobedient queen, Florence Welch never once sat in it – or even acknowledged it was there. Instead, she danced around the stage the same way fans danced listening to her music in their bedroom, and ventured into the crowd, dancing, singing, holding hands. While not uncommon in a club setting, seeing this happen in a stadium was a unique experience.
If it’s true that artists feed off the energy of the crowd, then it was clear that Welch was hungry. She ventured into the crowd three separate times during the set, during Choreomania, she even sprinted back to the soundboard in the back of the audience, which itself is quite the journey. Fans in the audience wore their flower crowns and boutique sundresses in an attempt to capture the energy of Welch’s music. But even with the lights not on her, you could still tell Welch out from her fans in the crowd by her excitement, darting through the audience like a bright red fox.
The night can be summed up wonderfully by the band’s latest album, Dance Fever, of which there certainly was plenty of. Welch told us she set out to create an album that was filled of things the pandemic was void of, which was the beauty of connection and intimacy – and plenty of communal dancing. Dance Fever took up about half the setlist from the night with no complaints from fans on the new material. Sprinkled in were also Florence + The Machine “classics” like Dog Days from 2009’s Fist, which came very early, just the sixth song in a twenty three song setlist. Welch asked us all to put our phones away for the climax of the song, and it was beautiful to see the stands in the Xcel dancing without their phones up.
I was nervous about the turnout for this show as I was taking my seats, thinking that The Armory may have been a better suited environment for the band, But while the Xcel was not at capacity, it did seem to be filled more than the Armory would have allowed. It also made watching the joy of Florence Welch on stage – and off stage – that much more enjoyable from higher up.