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This past Tuesday, British group Florence + the Machine took to the stage at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Led by front-woman Florence Welch, the BRIT Award-winning and Grammy-nominated performed a selection of tracks during the 60 minute show, incorporating fan favourites from debut LP ‘Lungs’ as well as new music from 2011′s follow-up LP ‘Ceremonials’.
The concert was streamed live on YouTube in partnership with HP Live, attracting a worldwide audience on top of the thousands present in the Hall. Welch commenced with the band’s well-known cover of The Source and Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’ and then moved into ‘Only If for a Night’, the first track from ‘Ceremonials’.
Despite Welch and her bandmates being known for soaring sounds and anthemic beats, every track was performed with a certain degree of restrained understatement, fitting for the venue and for the melancholic nature of the charity of which they were supporting. Welch, however, kept things light and was happy to engage with the audience.
It’s so amazing to be here tonight. Thank you so much … It’s just this space and the people and for this cause, it really means so much to me, so thank you. I’ve never been so nervous in my life! Even while I’m singing, it’s just looking up and seeing thing, and then it’s like, ‘Oh! I’ve got to remember the words and keep singing! Don’t get distracted by the beautiful arches!’.
As the show went on, Welch switched seamlessly between her back catalogue, from the ethereal ‘Between Two Lungs’ to piercingly vivid ‘Cosmic Love’. She joked repeatedly that she was ‘trying to practise being poised and … orchestral’, but from the audience’s perspective she was doing just fine.
With her tall, lean frame, and her simple, elegant dress, Welch fit right in with the classical aura, and might very well find herself fielding offers from the BBC Proms next year, considering how well she adapted to the evening’s proceedings while in the middle of an arena-filling world tour.
For her encore, Welch returned to the stage and belted out ‘Shake It Out’, the lead single from ‘Ceremonials’. This was an incredibly apt track on which to end to concert, as it speaks about new beginnings, letting go of the past, and looking to the future – a message suited well to the teenagers benefiting directly from the proceeds of this event. The organisation’s mission statement is:
We don’t believe that teenagers should have to stop being teenagers, just because they have cancer. So we fund and build specialist units for young people in NHS hospitals. Our units bring teenagers with cancer together with loads of new friends of their own age so they can support each other … Teenage Cancer Trust aims to ensure that every young person with cancer and their family receive the best possible care and professional support throughout their cancer journey.