For all of us Sydney sad-sacks who were either too slow on nabbing tickets or didn’t feel up to telling our bosses to ‘shove it’ when our leave application for Splendour in The Grass was denied; lady luck shone down on us in a slightly different and more intimate way.
Lady luck, or Florence Welch to her mum, strolls quaintly to mid-stage. Bathed from top to bottom in an exquisite floral explosion, the main point of focus underneath her heavy flame-coloured fringe is an infectious widespread grin. There’s no music, no drum-roll. Just a soft, barely audible “hello”, a few mumbled words, and then a brilliant, hearty laugh.
From then, we are lost.
Set against the most breathtaking waterfront views of Sydney Harbour, Florence + The Machine sway into the first of six stripped back hits. The first of which is Ship To Wreck, a beautiful guitar led sound that sets the standard for the day.
“This is another song about a hangover,” Florence announces, and, following a false start that sets chuckles and banter off amongst all both on stage and off, Shake It Out is a charming pleaser. As Florence takes on the role of conductor, she leads us through the backing vocals of the song and leaves us beaming and feeling chuffed with ourselves.
Queen of Peace is up next, vocally intense, mesmerising and giving this reporter the most prolific goose bumps to date.
But then comes stellar moment. As the subtle vocal opening to What Kind Of Man rings through, the song holds a completely different feel to the bombastic, driving tones of it’s original. Florence uses this to explore a more exposed side to the lyrics. It works perfectly, with both the raw verbal tones and her impressive vocal technique conveying an engaging, visceral performance. What a moment.
Fan favourite Dog Days Are Over rings out upbeat with its cheeky harp-driven innocence, and the encore choice of Only If For A Night brings a melodic ending.
The pain of missing out on Splendour this weekend still aches within our souls. But though we will be missing out on a surely electrifying full set from Ms Welch and her fantastical Machine in front of an ocean of bodies, today we lucky few stroll towards home through the natural beauty of Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, undeniably stoked to have been a part of something truly unique.
Gallery: Florence + The Machine – Sydney, Channel V Secret Show / Photos: Maria Boyadgis
Florence + The Machine is performing at Splendour in The Grass, Byron Bay, on Saturday, July 25th 2015 at 10:45pm.
Florence + The Machine will also return to Australia for a headline tour in November this year.