7 Amazing Florence & The Machine Live Performances That Prove Florence Welch's Stage Presence Is Unparalleled — VIDEO
Ever since the new album from Florence + the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful , came out in early June, I basically haven't listened to anything else. In the album, lead singer Florence Welch releases a wonderful new level of emotional ferocity, intensity, and maturity — both lyrically and vocally — to the point that it elevates HBHBHB above previous albums released by the band. Anyone who's been following the band apart from their albums, however, knows that this is nothing new for the group: Florence + the Machine's live performances have always been just as frenetic, kinetic, and emotionally jarring as HBHBHB is.
In fact, Welch is easily one of the best live performers in mainstream music today, and HBHBHB is the closest the band has come to capturing that in a recorded setting. She brings an emotional immediacy to the stage that makes each song like its own theatrical event — and, while she has a reputation for soaring vocals and high volume, she actually has an impressive ability to temper the softness of her singing voice. The contrast is really quite lovely.
Here are seven of Florence + the Machine's best live performances from throughout the years. Some date back to the band's first album, Between Two Lungs, some are from HBHBHB, and some are star-studded covers — but they all prove that Welch has been one hell of a live performer for quite some time.
"Rabbit Heart" On KEXP Seattle, 2010
This version of Between Two Lungs' "Rabbit Heart" is more subdued than the album version, and the melody shines through beautifully when the song is stripped down. Likewise, Welch's voice is less bombastic than usual in this performance, and her voice mirrors the sweet simplicity of the harp behind her.
"What Kind Of Man" On Saturday Night Live, 2015
Welch didn't let a broken ankle stop her from singing the heck out of this song during an appearance on SNL. The emotional intensity in the performance is insane, and the song itself is a melodramatic burst of adrenaline.
"Dog Days Are Over" On MTV Live Sessions, 2009
At first listen, the song sounds like an uplifting surge of positivity and optimism. In this performance, however, Welch imbues the song with dark emotional undertones, to the point that the performance seems unstable (in the best, most intriguingly watchable way possible).
"Cosmic Love" At The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, 2010
Can we collectively give her a Nobel Peace Prize for the peace that her beautiful voice brings to everyone's ears? Forget EGOT-ing, Welch deserves to EGONT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Nobel Peace Prize, Tony...you get the idea)!
Her Entire Coachella Performance, 2015
I mean, this concert is just awesome. It's a mix of their old and new songs, and the darkness of the new material brings out new shades of awesome in the old material. Most importantly, Welch is pitch perfect throughout.
Aretha Franklin Tribute At The Grammy Awards, 2011
This entire performance is pretty amazing: Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride, and Welch all bring their A-game to this medley of Aretha Franklin hits. Welch, in particular, totally kills it four minutes in with her rendition of "Think."
Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black" At VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul, 2011
"Back to Black" is one of those songs that's so good, even a bad karaoke rendition is great to hear — so hearing it from the likes of Welch is quite a treat. Welch dials her vocals down a little for this performance, and there's a wonderful vulnerability in her voice that pairs effectively with Winehouse's lyrics.