x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Florence and The Machine's rousing Sandance performance

With a set heavy on musical drama, Florence and The Machine closed Sandance with a rousing performance.

Florence and The Machine's opener Only For a Night immediately bewitched the crowd. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Florence and The Machine's opener Only For a Night immediately bewitched the crowd. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Florence and The Machine delivered a rousing performance in the final Sandance before the summer break. Their show, in front of a 12,000-strong crowd, confirmed that the UK baroque pop group are at ease playing rowdy festivals as music halls.

Led by Florence Welch, whose flowing emerald green dress had her resemble an actor from a Greek tragedy stage production, the band tore through a 12-song set taken from their two successful albums Lungs and Ceremonials. Since it was a festival crowd, Florence and The Machine ditched some of the quieter offerings from their catalogue, with a set heavy on musical drama.

The opener Only For a Night immediately bewitched the crowd, with Welch effortlessly shifting from an elegant coo in the verse to a chant-like chorus. What the Water Gave Me much about “The Machine” (Isabella Summers and seven other backing musicians), whose deft interplay of harp flourishes and backing vocals took the whole affair on an other-wordly vibe.

The set returned back to Earth with the acoustic guitar-led Heart Lines; its rootsy flavour was appreciated by the clapping crowd and a break from the already tumultuous set.

The band rounded off the performance with the killer trio of their hit singles Shake It Out, Dogs Days are Over and No Light, No Light. The songs left the crowd on a high, a fist in the air against an uncertain world.

Keane also delivered a classy set. While the English quartet can sound a bit naif on the record, they are a rather charming affair on stage. Lead singer Tom Chaplain’s vocals were spot on throughout; a good thing, considering the band’s skeletal backing instrumentation (piano, bass and drums). His cherub-like voice was responsible for giving the song much-needed weight.

Bend and Break took off courtesy of its swelling chorus. The moody A Bad Dream had Chaplin and Tim Rice-Oxley face off on pianos towards a mighty crescendo.The lilting Somewhere Only We Know and Everybody’s Changing had the crowd in full voice.

Meanwhile, Idris Elba’s DJ set was saved his by energetic interaction with the crowd. Beginning with a rather pedestrian suite of trance-meets-Brit pop numbers, he warmed up towards the end with an energetic hip-hop section covering crunk and classic G Funk.

sasaeed@thenational.ae