Florence And The Machine @ Leeds Academy
02 October 2009
We sent Carl Puttnam to Leeds Academy for a performance by the Mercury prize's odds-on favourite Florence and The Machine...
Enthusiastically clutching video cameras and phones as if early-onset Alzheimer’s might instantly erase the show from their minds, much of tonight’s crowd seem more engrossed in recording the experience rather than experiencing it firsthand. The more technologically challenged, however – the ones actually watching the gig through eyes rather than screens - may be finding Florence's nuances a little "X-Factor" friendly.
The fiery-haired starlet is primed for prime-time TV audiences: loaded full with clichéd moves and lacking any real spontaneity. That flowing dress she always wears; those threadbare anecdotes – it could be a 19 year-old Princess Di, circa 1985.
This evening the songstress dares the crowd to watch her with open minds and listen with open ears. But even some of the keen fashionista Londoners who came up for the night to mingle with their provincial Leeds cousins seem of the same opinion: when it comes down to it, Flo has somehow failed to live up to her early promise.
Once upon a time ‘The Machine’ was a boy in skinny jeans wielding a threadbare guitar. Then a drummer was added to the mix and suddenly it’s all BIG. Suddenly the production is the thing. A harp for goodness sake?
The band are stunning and tight – as session boys and girls always are. But are they are a band in the genuine sense? Where is the electricity? Where is the chemistry?
Everyone should love Florence. But Florence needs to get back to her roots before she floats off into the fluffy world of could-have-beens. The raw Joplin-esque talent that caught so much attention early on deserves the chance of succeeding without the need for extraneous flim-flam. Managers take note – sometimes less really is more!
By Carl Puttnam, CUD.
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