REVIEW: Florence + the Machine wow the crowd at Sheffield Arena

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“How big is this,” uttered an awe-struck Florence Welch in a quiet, girly voice as she addressed a packed Sheffield Arena for the first time.

The Florence + the Machine singer had already wowed the packed venue with two songs – What the Water Gave Me and Ship to Wreck – before acknowledging the crowd.

But it was an apt sentiment for the band, venue and tour as the band took to the stage following an impressive performance by support act The Staves.

Fresh from their third number one album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, and a smash-hit headline spot at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival, Florence + the Machine are one of the biggest bands in the UK right now.

And that is in no small part to the crowd-pleasing performances and stunning vocals of Florence herself.

With long, flowing hair and wearing a two-piece flared white suit, Florence evoked images of The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins in her look, but the similarities ended there.

Her performance was all Florence. Hands were waved as the 29-year-old bare-foot Londoner ran, jumped and pirouhetted across the stage with boundless energy – at one point running to the back of the venue to perform one a small platform to the thousands of fans a long way from the stage,

Supported by the rest of the band – keyboard player Isa Summers, guitarists Robert Ackroyd and Rusy Bradshaw, harp player Tom Monger, bassist Mark Saunders and drummer Christopher Hayden – as well as two backing singers and a three-piece brass section, the hits came thick and fast, including top-five smash You’ve Got the Love, from debut album Lungs, Shake It Out, from second album Ceremonials, and latest single Queen of Peace.

The set closed with number-one smash Spectrum (Say My Name) followed by a stunning performance of crowd anthem Dog Days are Over.

Florence urged everyone to hug the person next to them and to take something off and whirl it around their head.

Florence + The Machine at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Glenn Ashley.

Florence + The Machine at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Glenn Ashley.

The singer led the way by removing her jacket before one last run around the arena, during which she shed her shirt as well, leaving the venue in just a bra and trousers to long and loud acclaim.

In truth, the encore of What Kind of Man and Drumming Song failed to hit the heights of what had gone on a few minutes before.

That’s not to say they weren’t good, but the performance of Dog Days set the bar so high, it was almost impossible to come close – but it remains a gig which will live long in the memory of the thousands lucky enough to be present.

Florence Welch on stage at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Glenn Ashley.

Florence Welch on stage at Sheffield Arena. Picture: Glenn Ashley.