Florence + The Machine at the O2 Arena Review
29th January 2023
In typical Florence fashion, at her O2 Arena gig in November she leapt and bound across the stage with such ferocity that she broke her foot mid-performance, blood spilling across the stage and staining the blackened floor with patches of deep crimson, the remnants of which can supposedly still be found on that fabled stage to this day. Somehow she persevered, continuing to soar across the stage to the delight of her roaring fans despite her legitimately quite serious injury. Understandably, it was quickly announced that her second stop at the O2 Arena was to be postponed by ten weeks - to the day, she proclaimed last night, the absolute minimum possible time allocated by her doctors to allow a broken foot to heal - and her return to the stage at the O2 Arena almost three months later than originally intended was both triumphant and impassioned. She became distinctly emotional when describing the turmoil she felt when robbed of the ability to perform, and the elation she could now feel since her powers had been restored. Despite the fact that her foot was still presumably in some sort of recovery-mode, she continued to skip up and down the stage like the fiery performer that she is. She begrudgingly allowed her feet to be strapped tightly into black dancing shoes rather than her traditional bare-footed performance style, a strict order from the doctor she said, although she cheekily anticipated her return to the shoe-less lifestyle as soon as was medically possible.
Florence’s performance style is totally unique - it’s loose and it’s free, unbound by the restraints of choreography or organised movement, her limbs instead ethereally flailing about the place like she’s been possessed by some sort of witch. The sense of magic emanates to the audience too, with her spellbinding demeanour casting us under her alluring enchantment, and us, the audience, her willing subjects, are eager to concede to her powers. There’s something truly otherworldly about Florence Welch. Considering her spoken voice is so soft and lovely - her speeches in between songs were genuinely heartfelt - it’s almost a surprise when she starts to sing and that booming foghorn of a voice blasts so crashingly out of such a dove-like creature. But blast she does, and it’s utterly enrapturing. The setlist was solid, with Florence generously gifting us with a vintage Florence-banger every three songs or so, although the difference in quality between some of her classic numbers and the newer album tracks was felt, but the lull was quickly quelled when she whipped out a classic to bring the audience back to life.
It’s clear that Florence has missed the stage - and frankly, the stage has missed Florence. She was born to up there, her limbs and her flowing dress and her fiery hair whipping about the place, and the British music scene would be a much sadder place without her in it. We’ve seen the rise and fall of many a British female in the last decade or so, but Florence doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. She’s been chipping away for over a decade now, and she’s still doing her thing to a packed out house in the O2 Arena ten years after she burst onto the scene - and she’s never compromised anything, nor has there ever been anyone quite like her. There might not ever be anyone quite like her.
And we sincerely hope - broken feet notwithstanding - that she’s still leaping across the stage in another ten years time.