Florence + The Machine brought their self titled High As Hope tour to San Diego on September 23 at Viejas Arena.
The first concert I attended without my parents was Florence + The Machine in 7th grade. That show shook my whole world; I had never previously considered concerts to be an interesting or important thing, but the energy that she created in that venue opened my eyes. At SDSU’s relatively intimate arena, she certainly did not disappoint.
Florence + The Machine shows are about connecting with the audience on a personal level. She instructs the crowd to lift their arms up to the sky. Think of something that is weighing them down and imagine it flowing through your hands as you jump to the sky. After hyping up the crowd to where the whole venue was jumping on their feet, she got up and started running. Frolicking through the crowd, dancing and hugging everyone. Telling people to hug and embrace the strangers around them. Telling the crowd to put their phones away and encouraging them to tap on strangers shoulders so they do the same. She captivates you and connects you to everyone in the room until you all feel present.
Florence was welcomed to the stage by a screaming, energetic crowd. Her vibrato filled voice echoed through the night and drew the crowd to a thoughtful silence. Florence opened the show with June, followed by Hunger, the first two songs off of the recently released High as Hope.
Later, Florence paused to give a full introduction to the next song: “This song is about growing up in South London, being a messy teen and young adult.” She described a time when everything feels possible but at the same time so challenging and chaotic, spreading the message that while you may think life will get easier one day, it’s likely to always be this beautiful confusing chaos.
Florence had another message, one of love. “My heart is hurting for everything going on, but I believe in love.” Florence said to the crowd. “Spread love, even the smallest acts to strangers. We are a collective consciousness of love, tonight in this room. We all love each other on some cosmic level.”
She introduced the next song as being about one of her favorite women in the world. “When she heard it, she said she would always be there in spirit when my voice sang. Patti Smith is here in this room tonight… It’s such a beautiful thing to love,” Florence repeats in her song Patricia, a dedication to the woman whose writing inspired her throughout the High As Hope creation process.
Florence’s voice is full of power and beauty, and her band’s instrumentals were elegant and energetic. Every song sent shivers down my spine. She embodies the free spirited energy and poetic chaos of Patti Smith. Life exudes from her as she bounces and flows across the stage. Her long blush gown looks like clouds dancing in the sunlight. “Free” is the feeling Florence described after finishing the High as Hope album, and that is exactly the feeling I had as the lights fell on her show.