Then the lights illuminate the stage and you see her. Then she opens her mouth and you hear her. And the combination of the two is just so overwhelming and powerful that you can’t help but drop your jaw. Florence, outfitted in white and topped with her signature bloody copper tresses, conquers the stage with her presence and captures the open space with her voice. By the second song, "My Boy Builds Coffins," you conclude she is some sort of animal, but you’re not sure what kind. By the third song, "Girl With One Eye," you’ve now taken notice of things on the stage that aren’t Florence: the stunning purple backdrop printed with branches and leaves and neon green finches; the big ass harp on the left of the stage jamming just as hard as the rest of the band; the quirky birdcages enclosing dim light bulbs that speckle the scenery. You take a moment to look around to the rest of the crowd bathed in the rusty red light and see them staring and swaying, entranced. You look back. It goes dark.
In the darkness you watch the first backdrop rise, revealing a sea of tiny white lights that look like stars. The band launches into Cosmic Love. Florence opens her mouth and her voice is soft and lovely, tripping along notes and words like some divine thing. A swan, for now. Streamline and white, her crimson hair and painted mouth like a bright beak. Her voice escalates and belts "The Stars, The Moon, They Have All Been Blown Up," and you think is this is the most beautiful apocalypse you’ve never witnessed. The song ends and then there is screaming--not from the crowd, from Florence. She is rhythmically screaming into the microphone and you smile because it’s so strange but so fantastic. She bursts into "Howl" with guttural OOOOHs, and she is no longer a swan. She is some sort of horse, flinging around the stage, unbridled and primitive. She is yelling and tossing her red mane and her white skirt tries hopelessly to keep up with her quick, bare feet.
During the next song, "Blinding," the lights pulse and put you into a trance and the song builds and the drums build and you’re not sure who will explode first--you or Florence. The tension then dies as she and the band move into a raw version of "I’m Not Calling You a Liar." You listen closely to the harp and it is perfectly shrill. Next, the audience gets involved with a clapping part for "Between Two Lungs" and your hands are soon red and hot from friction. Then, you’re part of a chorus of ooo-ooooo-oooooo’s for "You’ve Got the Love," and, after, Florence thanks you and everyone else in a daintily incongruent, British-accented voice for “such beautiful singing,” as if she hasn’t been blowing the ceiling off the roof for the past hour. She and the band then dazzle you with a new song called "Strangeness and Charm," and, for a moment, you pay more attention to the fast-paced percussion than to Florence’s vocals. After, the creature before you speaks again with her tiny but enthusiastic intonations, amiably introducing the members of the band, and you sense the closing of the set. Finally, Florence + the Machine finish with a grand performance of "Raise It Up," and you watch hundreds of hands fly into the timed flashes of light with every RAISE IT UP chant. You have no doubt that an encore will ensue.
After about two minutes of straight clapping and whooping, the band revisits the stage and begins to play. Florence flutters out a few seconds later and performs her new single, "Heavy in Your Arms." And just as your biggest fears of not hearing her fame-garnering tracks seem to be coming true, they finish (for good this time) with ass-kicking-crowd-pleasing-body-moving renditions of "Kiss With a Fist" and "Dog Days Are Over." And Florence thanks the crowd once again and you clap and cheer and yell and clap and she bows and leaves and the curtain closes and the lights come on and everyone is talking talking talking and you walk out and the cool air hits you and wander to your car with a bass drum heartbeat and a vision of white.