Gig review: Florence + The Machine, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. Picture: Greg MacveanFlorence Welch of Florence + The Machine. Picture: Greg Macvean
Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. Picture: Greg Macvean
FROM an objective distance, preferably a vast one, I can understand the appeal of Florence Welch and her anonymous Machine. Every pop generation needs its own hippie Earth mother, and Welch fits the shawl-twirling bill.

Florence + The Machine

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Rating: **

But the music? What is there to love about this pummelling assault of grandiose stadium rock? It’s so slick and mechanical, I’m tempted to assume that the group named itself in a rare moment of wry self-awareness.

I’d like them more if I detected a sense of humour behind that pompous façade, but all I hear are earnest cues stolen from 80s AOR and, from Shake It Out, such inspirational platitudes as “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.

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I also hear the sound of Welch’s voice, which emotes on a titanic scale yet signifies nothing. She sounds like Cher with an irony bypass. It’s a powerful instrument, but so is a blunderbuss, and you wouldn’t want one of those going off in your ear.

There’s a certain brash tackiness to their live show, the earnest Goth-like kitsch of it all, that I grudgingly admire. Welch is a pro who can work a crowd, but she’d be better off doing Broadway rock. Her cover of The Source’s You’ve Got the Love is pure X Factor.

It’s no coincidence that the sole musical highlight here was the unabashedly brassy Jesus Christ Superstar fanfare of the title track from current album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Stick to that shtick, madam.

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