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Florence and the Machine bring their dreamy, soulful sound to D.C. on Oct. 5 and 6

The music group sought out to relieve stress and inspire hope and joy

Florence and the Machine bring their dreamy, soulful sound to D.C. on Oct. 5 and 6

Florence and the Machine performed at the Anthem on Oct. 5 and 6.

The audience was quiet as they hung on to Florence Welch’s every word. The only movement was the flashing of glow-flower headbands in the crowd. Florence grinned and said into the microphone, “If you’re here, it’s probably because you believe in women. Come and rage with us.”

Florence and the Machine played at the Anthem in D.C. on Oct. 5 and 6. Her opening act was Beth Ditto, a singer with a powerhouse voice that seemed to emanate from her entire body. Ditto’s music was powerful and beautiful, as her full-bodied voice worked closely with a loud, grounding kick drum and a grungy bass guitar.

Ditto’s soulful sound was the perfect opener to Florence and the Machine, a group known for their emotional, ethereal and truth-telling music. The group consists of Florence Welch, the lead singer, and her “machine,” eight background musicians who play the harp, guitar, percussion, violin, bass, keyboard, backing vocals, piano and synthesizers.

Florence seemed to get lost in her music and let it fully direct her movements. Barefoot, she ran, leaped and danced around the stage, moving her body to the intricate beats of the various instruments in the “machine.”

The group began playing the hit song from their “Lungs” album from 2008, “Dog Days are Over,” when they suddenly stopped halfway. Florence said into the mic, “I know this is going to be hard, but I am going to need everyone to put their phones away.”

Mimicking Florence, the audience raised their phone-free hands high in the air. Then, the band dove right back into the chorus of the song, and the energy in the room was electric.

The sound of Florence and the Machine is a mix of electronic, tribal and has an air of Celtic soul. Although Florence entered into an almost trance-like state during her songs, the show was anything but impersonal. Throughout the show, she addressed the audience with messages of love, gratitude and positivity. She also encouraged audience members to engage with one another at multiple points, which they did by holding hands or hugging the person next to them.

Towards the end of the show, Florence ran alongside the railing separating the stage from her fans. She stopped and pulled front row audience members in for an embrace as she sang. Moments later, Florence scaled the railing, jumped down into the crowd and let fans surround her.

Florence was graceful in how she delivered messages. Through her verbal and physical interactions with the crowd, encouragement of the audience to connect and let loose together, and her choices in song, she emphasized the joy of unity and letting go.

The show ended with an encore. Florence and the Machine took the stage for the final time and wound up the night with their 2009 hit song “Shake It Out.” Florence brought an air of compassion, hope, and release when D.C. seemed to need it the most.

Her voice rang out, “But it's always darkest before the dawn. Shake it out, shake it out…”

dharvey@theeagleonline.com


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