TORONTO - “You want a revelation!” sang Florence Welch as she dramatically closed her 90-minute sold-out show at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Thursday night with the newer song No Light, No Light.
The good news was that the absolutely fascinating Welch was the revelation herself.
With a clear, strong, soaring voice, natural grace and expert stage moves, there’s a reason the soulful 25-year-old frontwoman of the British band Florence + the Machine has seen her popularity explode in the last three years since the release of her 2009 debut Lungs and its followup, 2011’s Ceremonials.
It was mainly songs from the new album that the flaming red-haired and barefoot Welch - beautifully decked out in a midnight blue teddy, dance pants, and a flowing cape - offered up on Thursday night opening with Only If For A Night.
Emerging from behind an art deco, stained glass production, Welch - backed by an eight piece band including a harpist, two drummers, and two pianists - certainly knew how to make an entrance.
And if there was any leftover injury from straining her voice in Dublin in July, which led to the cancellation of some European shows, it certainly wasn’t evident on such song standouts as What the Water Gave Me, Spectrum, Heartlines, Leave My Body, Seven Devils, Shake It Out, Never Let Me Go, and the older tune Cosmic Love.
Physically, she seemed to almost float around the stage as she skipped, twirled or just posed with one leg pushed forward, or both arms up in the air, head down, eyes up, and a big smile on her face, drawing applause and cheers whenever she did.
Equal parts Isadora Duncan, Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks, there was something regal about the tall, thin Welch with the impossibly long limbs.
And she seemed equally fascinated with us, proclaiming she had seen some of the most beautiful women, one after the other, earlier in the day while walking the streets of Toronto.
“There must be something in the drinking water,” said Welch.
Despite her and the band being particularly “tour frazzled,” she credited the Toronto crowd with healing them.
Welch also encouraged major audience participation asking for “human sacrifices,” or fans to raise each other up on each other shoulders for the Lungs song, Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), the best tune of the night, which was only matched in intensity by another Lungs hit, Dogs Days Are Over, which saw her getting everyone to jump up and down on the spot.
“The sound is the best part,” she said of the crowd jumping in unison.
And when she went for a mad sprint through the audience during Rabbit Heart, she joked afterwards: “It is the Olympics! I mean, c’mon! I’m going out for the cross-country cape running.”
She also wanted to see people “express” themselves during the new song Spectrum as she and her pianist Isabella Summers - in red high heels - came down from the stage and approached one young male fan named Eric who had her song lyrics all over his t-shirt.
“Don’t be scared. We may look like bats but we don’t bite!” she said.
Only If For a Night
What the Water Gave Me
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Leave My Body
Shake It Out
Dog Days Are Over
Never Let Me Go
No Light, No Light