Preview: Florence + The Machine at The Anthem
If I were to name artists that were distant constants in my life, Florence + The Machine would be one of them. I had always known of Florence Welch and her band, often catching wisps of the clamor surrounding their releases, but the level of involvement on my part was of the same line as watching fireworks go off miles away from a rooftop – acknowledging the action, but never participating. I took a leap and decided to listen to “High as Hope” when it released in June, and it pulled me under, drowning me under Welch’s powerful vocals.
Welch’s artistry genius cannot be disputed. Looking back, her previous albums are raw, hung-out-to-dry reflections of her existence during the time she wrote them, almost like dirty mirrors through which we could still see her figure. From her album “Lungs” to “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” she transforms from a wild, cracked girl who felt so much that she became empty, to a woman who has started to take control of her self-destruction. Sudden fame seemed too much for the young Welch to handle as she publicly propelled into years of endless partying, which she has since tried to rein herself back from. When “High as Hope” released, it solidified the maturity that seemed to be blossoming in recent years for this young artist.
“High as Hope” is not only the first album where Welch is listed as a co-producer, but also her most intimate release by far. She goes from confessing to having an eating disorder in “Hunger” to harmonizing about family feuds in “The End of Love.” Her tracks, gently meshing together the airy, soaring vocals for which she is renowned and the instrumentals that melt together piano chords, iconic choirs that permeate her songs and Motown beats and strings, all working together to create a feeling that I could only to describe as “making full.” Even through basic headphones, it is clear: “High as Hope” demonstrates Welch’s great ability to fill up the empty spaces in a room and command it to hide listeners from the “vast unnameable fear” she describes in “No Choir.” She knows this fear and commands it well, but what is so significant about “High as Hope” is that the record’s relatable messaging. In an interview with The Guardian, she describes how her sister was shocked that she admitted to her eating disorder after years of denial, but the terror she felt in anticipation of revealing it was what ultimately drove her to do it.
She said in the interview, “The weirdest thing is, that as personal as it feels, as soon as you say it, other people say: ‘I feel like that, too.’”
In July, Florence released a scrapbook called “Useless Magic,” meant to detail a journey towards learning how to articulate her emotions as well as her struggle with the concept of normalcy, adding to her increasing openness about vulnerability and intimacy. The keynote poem writes, “What would I say/If it were just me/Not full of choirs, singing fucking constantly.”
This is no doubt a new era in Welch’s career, and it will be exciting to see what she brings next. Florence + The Machine will be playing at The Anthem for two nights on Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6, with accompanied by opener Beth Ditto.
Skip the #FOMO, and get your tickets to see the magical Florence and her Machine this week at The Anthem here.
Show preview by Tiffany Hu.