Florence and the Machine swap the attic for the arena

Mar 15, 2012

Florence Welch's dramatic new tour confirms her superstar status (but can she really sing?)


What you need to know
Florence and the Machine are a British pop group led by singer-songwriter Florence Welch, whose voice is often compared to that of Kate Bush. The band's music combines elements of baroque pop, art rock and soul.
Their first album, Lungs, released in 2009, reached number one in the charts and was one of the bestselling albums of 2009 and 2010. At the 53rd Grammy Awards (2011), Florence and the Machine were nominated for best new artist.
Their second album, Ceremonials, released in October 2011, debuted in Britain at number one. The band are currently on tour in Britain, with gigs this week in Manchester and Newcastle. Next month, Florence plays the Royal Albert Hall, London.
What the critics like
Florence's underdog days are over, says Ed Power in The Daily Telegraph. Her new tour features a gleaming art-deco backdrop, enough musicians and crew to field a football team and, of course, Florence, with her Pre-Raphaelite red hair, "rafter raising voice" and billowing cape created for her by Lady Gaga stylist Alex Noble. But "for all the superficial pomp", the show feels almost stripped down and Florence creates "the impression that she was crooning to each and every person in the room individually".
The live show is a magnificent exaggeration of the album, says Kristin Lynn on STV. With shooting stars on LED screens, this "truly dramatic show" pivots on a prominent harp to cultivate Florence's distinctive sound while the driving percussion "keep the tribal heart of the band pulsating".
Windy, undulating songs and tribal operatic pop have marked Florence Welch's giddy ascent to pop's major international leagues, says Kitty Empire in The Guardian. Welch unleashes some of her best elastic and soulful vocals playing off "the neo-spiritual hoot" of an accompanying choir. She may once have seemed "the quintessential bohemian eccentric, but she is thriving in a female-dominated mainstream".
What they don't like
Florence has the sort of voice that can conquer all, says Will Dean in The Independent. But if her show is let down, it's by the fact that, "despite her stave-straddling vocal range, it's sometimes hard to detect too much emotional range in Welch's voice as it rockets towards the ceiling".
Florence has gone from the "batty relative the pop world kept in its attic" to bona fide superstar status, says Will Hodgkinson in The Times. But after a few songs it becomes apparent that she can't really sing. She "belts out words rather than lands on notes" and "heads towards hysteria rather than scales". It suits her escapist style though, and whether she hit the notes or not, "she holds the room captive simply by being herself".

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Some pitch inaccuracy is excusable in such a dramatic, loud, rock/pop live setting. It's completely different to opera, where one off note would sound much worse. And even an opera deva would find it challenging staying in tune all the time singing Flo's songs in the same setting. BTW, Flo sings more in tune in an acoustic environment.

There is probably reason you write for this and not anyother, bigger website. "it becomes apparent that she can't really sing". Really? Have you actually heard her live?

I don't know what Hodgkinson means when he says Flo "heads towards hysteria". She is powerful, passionate, emotional and genuinely expressive. I think I'd rather have that than her "land on the notes" as Hodgkinson would like. For me she's a phenomenal SINGER.

Hey, Mr Hodgkinson, if I were you I'd plug the phrase "ear specialist" into google. You never know, someone might be able to help you...

I am actually inclined to agree. I can't listen to Flo as she gives me a headache with that screeching banshee impersonation. But good luck to her.

That's just a matter of taste isn't it? I can't understand why someone would listen to Michael Buble for example, because to me he sounds affected, anaemic and completely lacking any genuine passion. I wouldn't say he can't sing though.

I think a hearing aid would be wise to invest in Mr. Hodgkinson. I was baffled by that comment he made; apparently some people are fools...

What even is this? 'she can't actually sing' - what a load of total crap! Florence has a voice that would make any person with a working pair of ears fall in love instantly with the power and beauty she holds in every note.

"But after a few songs it becomes apparent that she can't really sing"...I'm sorry, but that's the most ridiculous comment I have ever read.  

what's this?! are you kidding me?! have you ever heard her sing live?! have you heard her perform at this year's brit awards?!? not everyone is a fan of her music of course, i get that (it's a matter of taste), but to say that she can't sing?! really?!

Guess what? Critics said that about my favorite band...in fact the exact quote was " they will be gone in 2 weeks."
KISS IS still around! & Mr.Stanley CAN SING! (Yeah, he starred in Toronto's Phantom of the Opera, lead role.)
As for Florence : I say YOU CRITICS will again EAT YOUR WORDS! FLORENCE LEOTINE MARY WELCH CAN SING! & will be around for as long as she wants. Her lyrical abilities compare to none out there. She's a rare find in a business of no talents out there. Your review will be forgotten. Florence will never be!

I don't think I've heard an artist who can emote as well as Florence Welch; in fact, that is an understatement.  With one note, she can reach out to you and just sweep you up in emotion - whether it's one of joy or despair. Florence Welch is truly brilliant and gives me much hope for the future of the music industry, which is in serious need of revitalization.