LIVE REVIEW: Florence + the Machine, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

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Florence + The Machine captured the hearts of a near-capacity crowd at the Arena last night, with their flawless exhibition of pop excellence captivating a cross-generation audience.

It was the first visit to the region since 2012 by the chart-topping singer and her band, and they lived up to the high expectations.

Centrepiece Florence Welch was enchanting as she hit every soaring note, all while energetic enough to gracefully float around the stage throughout their hour-plus set.

With No 1. album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful to draw upon, every song was familiar, although the wildest response was saved for some old favourites.

Debut album classic Dog Days Are Over drew a scattering of lingerie to the stage, and their famous cover of You’ve Got The Love had the audience singing along to every word.

A three-year hiatus from touring the United Kingdom had created impressive demand for Florence + The Machine’s return to the Metro Radio Arena, a deal sweetened by the addition of The Staves as special guests.

The rising stars of the folk world are Hertfordshire sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla, but despite their credentials, the venue was only sparsely populated for their 45-minute performance.

Nonetheless, their gorgeous harmonics and careful acoustic stylings won them new admirers who they’ll hope to see again for their own headline show at Newcastle University in October.

A 30-minute changeover followed, allowing an impressively diverse audience of young and old to flow into the arena and create a carnival atmosphere ready for the main event.

Florence + The Machine are often mistaken for a solo project - there’s seven members at present - but they’re all too happy to play up to Florence Welch’s star potential, as she was the focus of the show as soon as they appeared.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

While the rest of the band took to the stage quietly, she entered through the press area in lively fashion, touching hands with fans in the front row before finally joining her band-mates on stage.

It was an engaging start which set the tone for a sprightly performance that contrasted greatly to her stern appearance on their latest album cover.

She quickly asked the audience to “be her choir”, to which thousands duly agreed without hesitation, providing a cacophony of noise to back her towering vocal finesse.

Nautical-themed familiars What The Water Gave Me and Ship To Wreck opened the set, before Shake It Out and Rabbit Heart spurred on the crowd’s involvement.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

This ascended to fever pitch during You’ve Got The Love, the Candi Staton cover which engrained Florence into the public psyche in 2009.

As the set progressed Florence + The Machine were able to not only show off this strength of back catalogue, but also perform critically-acclaimed material from the new album.

Title track How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was a highlight, an emphatic soulful anthem with a brass outro arranged by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp.

Some of the more subdued numbers understandably took some of the sting out of proceedings, but still allowed Florence to show off her impressive vocal range.

Her familiar thunderous voice was all the more impressive for her stamina, as she managed to dash across the stage while not missing a note on several occasions.

She also chatted about Newcastle with her band while introducing Cosmic Love, asking if they could remember any hangovers in the city - which they could.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

A set that had met every expectation closed with a lively rendition of Spectrum (Say My Name), a song better-known for a remix by Calvin Harris, and Dog Days Are Over.

Inviting fans to “take something off and wave it like a flag”, Florence ended up showered with a dozen bras and other items of lingerie, spinning one loftily above her head.

They returned for an all-too-short encore, including a meandering rendition of Drumming Song which was the one low-light of the night, missing its mark somewhat.

But What Kind Of Man - the celebrated lead track from their latest chart-topping album - carried even more punch live, as a rousing rendition closed an exceptional evening of entertainment.

• For more of Katy Blackwood’s pictures, visit her website HERE.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.