While she might seem otherworldly, it turns out not even Florence Welch is immune to a hangover. “I’m trying to remember the worst hangover I ever had in Sydney, I think someone was on acid and there was a Jacuzzi,” she giggles. “Anyway this song was written when I had the worst hangover of my entire life!”
Standing resplendent in her all-white flare, top and waist-coat combo, surrounded by that golden halo of hair, it’s hard to imagine her looking or feeling anything less a goddess that she is. Though she insists, “It’s always funny when I sing it because when I wrote it I couldn’t even imagine I’d ever make it out of that room.”
Yep, Florence Welch wrote Cosmic Love with an epic hangover. Let’s be honest, the most us mere mortals can accomplish with a hangover is dragging ourselves to the service station to get a blue Powerade. So surely this makes it official — Florence is actually some ethereal queen who accidentally ended here up on earth, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Florence even has the power to control the weather, with the rain politely stopping the moment she begins to sing. Support act Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders weren’t quite so lucky, playing through a steady drizzle. They still managed to get the poncho-clad crowd groovin’ with a number of tunes off their latest record Playmates, though. Also, shout out to Jack Ladder’s mullet — a definite highlight of the night.
Florence wastes no time launching into What The Water Gave Me. No wonder she doesn’t wear shoes while performing — within moments she’s bounding across the stage, furiously shaking her tambourine, even dropping a pirouette here and there. Mesmerising doesn’t begin to cut it.
Before belting out Ship To Wreck, she rallies the crowd with, “We are Florence + The Machine and we are going to need you to get as high as you can. If you’re sitting stand up, if you’re standing grab someone and put them on your shoulders.”
For Rabbit Heart, she refuses to be contained by the stage, cutting loose and cutting laps up and around the Opera House steps. She delivers the last verse sitting majestically atop of some lady’s shoulders, with the sails of the Opera House lit up behind her. It’s perfect.
As Florence returns slightly breathless to the stage, she requests everyone put their phones away for Third Eye. Next up is Delilah, followed but You’ve Got The Love, which naturally inspires lots of love from the crowd.
Florence doesn’t miss a beat, with each song as mind blowing as the next. How Big How Blue How Beautiful is overwhelmingly powerful, before Shake It Out inspires a thousands-strong singalong.
After her confession about the origins of Cosmic Love, Florence takes things down a notch, enjoying a brief respite from the frantic pace with a beautifully simple cover of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart in honour of his birthday.
What Kind Of Man lifts the energy levels back up to high-voltage. Queen of Peace and Say My Name keep them there before Dog Days closes out an incredibly epic set all too soon.
There’s a brief pause for the encore. Florence and her machine (who delivered an incredibly tight performance and killer backing vocals) return for a flawless rendition of Mother, finishing off the night with Drumming Song.
Florence is one of those stars who never fails to live up to the hype surrounding them. Watching her do her thing on the steps of the Opera House on a stormy summer night — well, live music doesn’t get much more magical than that.
Florence + The Machine’s current Australian tour stays in Sydney for three more shows, before heading to Brisbane.
Gallery: Florence + The Machine – Sydney Opera House Forecourt 13.11.15 / Photos: Maria Boyadgis