Florence + The Machine at the Hollywood Bowl | Credit: Courtesy Republic Records

It’s a brisk Friday evening, and there is nowhere you can turn without seeing a floor length sundress. There’s only one explanation: Florence + the Machine.

English indie band Florence + the Machine formed in London in 2007, led by enigmatic vocalist Florence Welch. Their music is beloved by fans for its dramatic production and charming lyrical idiosyncrasies, performed with genuine heart and a touch of mystique. In support of the band’s latest record, Dance Fever, Welch is the leading floor length dress-wearer tonight at the Hollywood Bowl, with a strong fringe and (even stronger) ethereal voice.

A gentle hymn begins as crystal chandeliers rise from the floor, and Welch floats onto stage, barefoot, in glistening lilac. She motions her arms and body singing “Heaven Is Here” as if her hands are dancing to it, seemingly swathing the audience’s attention around her with flowing ease. 

“Sometimes I wonder if I should be medicated…let’s discuss this at the hospital,” Welch flippantly quips during “Free,” her bright red hair flowing past her shoulders swiftly as she darts back and forth across the stage. The 2008 hit “Dog Days Are Over” is met with enthusiasm that echoes from all sides, as waves of audience goers jump with joy and leave their box seats to twirl and dance with glee. 

“Big God” is the spectacle of the night, as Welch lives what she sings, gliding through the crowd, looking down at fans who look up in awe. “You need a big god… shower your affection, let it rain on me.” The spotlight follows her, as if she’s been dropped from a portal above; the end of her dress is hidden behind the mass of enchanted admirers as she seemingly drifts above the floor, further solidifying her stirring divine imagery.

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Welch then shapeshifts into a twirling ballerina in a music box, her glittering gown catching hints of pink, teal, and white. Now that she’s enchanted us, she has a few asks. 

“I invite you all to hold onto each other,” she smiles as she croons “June.” Then, she instructs us to bend down. “What I’d like to practice with you this evening is…a resurrection of dance.” As the song starts to build, she motions for us to stand as the crashes of “My Love” wash over the crowd. 

Before she starts fan favorite “Never Let Me Go,” Welch gets emotional. “Anything I thought was too messy or too broken or too much… if I put it in a song… you carried it in your heart… and you kept these songs safe for me.” What follows is an encore that perfectly caps the exquisite evening. 

“Never Let Me Go” starts it off with a vulnerable, delicate ballad about drowning in a (literal) ocean of despair; “it’s peaceful in the deep…in the arms of the ocean, so sweet and so cold.” “Shake It Out” mixes grandiose vocal chants with elegant metaphors, and is one of the band’s most glorious feats to date. It is simply impossible for the audience and Welch to not jump to “Rabbit Heart,” with its bold phrasing and striking beats. It’s a momentous way to collectively conclude a cathartic evening.

“Perhaps you think this is a cult…or a British pagan dance ritual…” Welch teases. “It’s best if you just lean into it.” 

After tonight, Florence + the Machine proved that it was impossible for us not to.

Florence + The Machine at the Hollywood Bowl | Credit: Kat Sophia

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