Florence Welch, the almighty powerhouse behind Florence + The Machine, sauntered onto Brooklyn Academy Music's stage barefoot and expressionless, her hand outstretched to the crowd as if both giving and absorbing energy. The band's intimate show on Sunday (May 13) — the venue seats just under 3,000 — marked the first two in Brooklyn to celebrate the upcoming release the English group's fourth studio album, High As Hope (June 29).
Throughout the show, Florence performed with the delicacy a ballerina, ferocity a warrior and the power a sorceress. From debuting new music to prancing through the aisles, here are the best moments from the enchanting show.
— Even before Florence stepped a bare foot on stage, the elaborate stage design set the tone the evening. Adorned with lush arrangements flowers, both on the floor and hanging above in cloud-like formations, the set-up paired well with the warm hues pink, red and orange lighting that flashed along to Florence's soaring vocals and pounding rock ballads.
— Supported by an eight-person backing band, the most eye-catching instrument was surely the golden harp that contributed glittering production, especially on new track “Patricia,” which Florence introduced by saying: “This is] about a woman I admire very much, but I don’t know how to tell her about it because I’m very shy.”
— “Patricia” wasn't the only new song Florence debuted. In addition, she also treated fans to “100 Years,” which included a heavy and brash instrumental break towards the end. Ahead performing the High As Hope cut, Florence revealed the album's name was inspired by a New York skyscraper, though the giggle that followed left its meaning more open-ended than that.
— Ahead performing the new album's second single, “Hunger,” Florence addressed the crowd with a lengthy and heartfelt message appreciation in her gentle and childlike speaking voice: “I never thought that I would say these things to anybody, let alone sing them and make a song about it and release it,” she said. “It just never occurred to me that I could ever do something like that. I was so scared, and the love and community and support… I'm so grateful to you. Songs take something that is really painful and when we sing it all together it alchemizes.” She then gave herself a minute, before finally stating with a smile: “When you don’t know what to do, you dance.” Following “Hunger,” she delivered the album's lead single “Sky Full Of Song,” compete with its chilling a cappella introduction.
— When Florence finally reached the surging and freeing “Dog Days Are Over” on the set list, it felt as if it was the finale. “Hug the person next to you, tell them you love them, make it awkward” Florence instructed. “We are going to do something very special…” she then told the crowd they would need both hands free and suggested everyone put their phones away for a moment release, unrecorded. When someone as seemingly sweet, and fierce, as Florence asks you to do something, you oblige — nearly no phones could be seen among the sea upstretched arms.
— One Florence's most human moments came ahead “Falling,” f 2009's debut album, Lungs. “I’ve fallen out a lot New York taxis,” Florence said, “and left my phone in a lot New York taxis.”
— During “Delilah,” Florence delivered her greatest and most-loved stunt: running through and embracing the crowd. Whether at a massive outdoor festival or small and ornate indoor venue, the thrill was the same. Florence ran, still barefoot, up and down the aisles, being traced by a single flashlight (not a spotlight, a small handheld flashlight) and even wove her way through the seats to stand on them while singing directly into faces and clutching the hands and shoulders her fans. When she finally made her way back to the stage, it wasn't for long; she soon came running back up the middle aisle to writhe with the crowd, as if possessed by her own words.
— For set-closer “What Kind Of Man,” f 2015's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence snaked through the front row seeking out the men, specifically. During the song's chorus, during which she questions, “What kind man loves like this?” she held each man's face with one open-handed grasp as if both wanting them to answer and also writing them f before they had a chance.
— Following thunderous and unrelenting applause, Florence + The Machine returned to the stage for a rallying one-song encore “Shake It Out.” And when all was said and done, Florence came into the crowd once more to dole out warm, eyes-closed hugs to fans at the foot the stage.