CHICAGO — About two hours before she was set to take the stage at Lollapalooza, Florence Welch told MTV News that she had reached hallucinatory levels of exhaustion — joking “it’s not the good kind of hallucinatory” — which is certainly to be expected when you maintain the kind of tour/press schedule she does. The funny thing was, you wouldn’t have known it from the show she put on Sunday (August 5) night, which was certainly one fest folks will be talking about for years to come.
That’s because, by the time Florence — and her Machine — took to the Bud Light stage at Chicago’s Grant Park, there was a crowd as huge (by unofficial accounts, the largest on this side in Lolla history) as it was ready to cut loose. And Welch was more than willing to give them an excuse.
Over the course of their 75-minutes, Florence and the Machine not only did their usual ephemeral thing — Welch’s vocals on “Only If For The Night” and “Heartlines” were as ghostly and evanescent as an early-morning fog, and showed no signs of the vocal problems that vexed her last month — but they turned their set into a positively visceral experience.
Favorites like “Shake It Out” and (of course) “The Dog Days Are Over” had folks in the audience leaping and shaking, and they packed an appropriately anthemic punch. Welch, dressed in a flowing red gown, bounded across the stage countless times, leading the crowd in sing-alongs and shouting out particularly energetic fans (“Look at them, they’re snogging!“) while her band provided massive chords, drums and harp.
“Leave My Body” was ominous and bewitching, “Never Let Me Go” was cathedral sized and “What The Water Gave Me” ebbed and flowed with tidal power. And as if Welch and her mates weren’t already in top form, they used their Lolla slot as an excuse to premiere “Breath of Life,” their single off the Snow White and the Huntsmen soundtrack (it had “never, ever been played live before,” according to Flo).
And, of course, the song was epic, ringing and coursing through the throngs who helped make this a truly memorable night for a roady-weary band and their hallucinatory frontwoman. Historical, even. What a way to cap a weekend.
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