By Justin Trudell
Because I was grumpy from an incredibly stressful commute to DTE Energy Music Theatre, smiles were a rare commodity from me. It was hot, everyone drives like an idiot except me, and my usual remedy for depression (booze) was a wallet-crippling $9. I stayed sober and pissed, but then something magical happened. Florence and the Machine took the stage and all my cares melted away like the soles of my shoes on the volcanic DTE pavement.
With already high expectations for Florence and the Machine, I had fully expected to be satisfied, but not blown away from her performance. Her band (The Machine?) took the stage first, then anticipation slowly built for the arrival of the woman of the hour. A buzz filled the crowd, probably the result of numerous pungent weed clouds seen scattered about, but also the culmination of our anticipation. Florence Welch slowly glided on stage to a wave of shrieking excitement. She carried a bouquet of flowers and began to hand them out to the crowd on the barrier. We were slowly led into tranquil opening tune, “What the Water Gave Me,” then slammed into one of newest tracks “Ship to Wreck“. In a matter of two songs, my mood had traveled from the depths of annoyance to the soaring highs above the night sky.
Florence and the Machine have that power. Florence Welch sings with such a passion and authenticity, it’s impossible to not feel at her show. You feel her pain, you feel her triumph, and her joy. Her mood is contagious. She shared stories about writing some of her earliest songs, what mood she was in when she wrote them, and how much they mean to her. (Side note: an overwhelming theme seemed to be writing when she was hungover. So I guess I’m halfway to writing Florence-level songs, since I’m hungover all the time, now I just have to learn to play music…) At one point telling us, “I couldn’t perform this song live for the longest time because it was much too close. The pain was just too strong.” A live show with Florence and the Machine is as much a therapy session for the audience as it is for her. You share the heartbreaking lows, so you can appreciate the highs.
The highlight of the show came with the crowd favorite, and the most popular tune, “Dog Days Are Over“. At the last musical breakdown, Florence took a break from sprinting and jumping around the stage to implore us to “turn to the people around you, hug each other, embrace each other, kiss each other!” We all obliged, although one of us, let’s just call him Bryan Foley, seemed to be very apprehensive. Ah well, I guess not everyone can be coaxed into feeling alive.
After we hugged each other like hippies on ecstasy, Florence made one last request: “Now, I want everybody to take something off and wave it above your head like a flag! And with it, take off something you don’t need, take off something you wanna let go of, because Michigan, you have been RELEASED! And when I say ‘Run’ I am gonna need you to jump as high and for as long as you can!”
Florence said “Run,” and every last person at DTE was jumping, with their shirts off, wearing only huge smiles, me and Bryan included.