NEW YORK CITY: Florence Welch is here for the women. Delivering a high-octane performance at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on October 9, New York was an important pit stop in the South Londoner’s High As Hope world tour. This city is after all the nerve centre whereby some landscape-changing and gender-defining decisions have gone down this week; Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court, prosecutors dismissed one count in the criminal case against Harvey Weinstein.

Alas, the mood was upbeat, hopeful inside the arena. “I feel like you guys are having lots of fun. There’s very good energy in here,” Welch said, explaining why playing in New York City is so special. “I was staying here when I mixed High as Hope,” she said. “I really love it here and I’m so honoured to be back. So much of this record was about New York.”

Twirling, vaulting and leaping, Welch is almost shape-shifting from the second she steps onto the stage with June to closing track What Kind Of Man. But it’s five songs deep where things get real and the carefree, angelic movement of her translucent peach dress – and her eight-person machine – stop, stagnant as she addresses the audience. Ready to sing her track Patricia, an ode to American singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith (an influential staple to the New York City punk rock movement in the 70s), Welsh delivered the first message of female empowerment. Citing “the super angry bits in the middle” of the track and their reference to a toxic masculinity, she said she was certain “there’s none of that here tonight.” “If you’re here, it’s because you probably really believe in women – so join us, rage with us.” The chorus “I believe her, I believe her, I believe her,” was surely a nod to Dr Christine Blasey Ford and a middle finger to the swing-vote lawmakers responsible for Kavanaugh’s fate.

During South London Forever100 Years and The End Of Love, Welch reflected on recent “complicated times” and how her “heart hurts” but told the mostly American audience not to become complacent. “Please, please, do not give up hope. Hope is an action. The things you do will make a difference and it does matter. A revolution of consciousness starts in individuals and that’s you.” In one of the most vulnerable moments of the night, she instructed every person in that arena to “turn to a stranger, hug them, and tell them to register to vote.”

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Moving through classics like Dog Days Are Over, it was Cosmic Love is which Welch asserted her spell on the 19,000-strong sell-out crowd. The 32-year-old encouraged everyone to light up the stadium with their cellphones, the starry performance a true highlight of the night as was her hit Delilah. And given the evening’s themes, it made sense then for Welch to close with a roaring track. “What kind of man loves like this?” she belted out as she flung herself into the crowd, her long red hair everywhere as a few lucky fans held her in the air. “What kind of man?”

Saxophone extraordinaire Kamasi Washington helped close with Shake It Out.

Confetti fell from the starry sky. Everyone’s high AF on hope. Spell complete.

SET LIST:
June
Hunger
Between Two Lungs
Only If for A Night
South London Forever
Patricia
Dog Days Are Over
100 Years
Ship to Wreck
End of Love
Cosmic Love
Delilah
What Kind of Man

ENCORE:
Big God
Shake It Out

AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES JANUARY 2019:

Saturday, 12th January
Perth Arena, Perth. Supported by Marlon Williams

Wednesday, 16th January
Botanic Park, Adelaide. Supported by Billie Eilish

Friday, 18th January
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne. Supported by Marlon Williams

Saturday, 19th January
Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong. Supported by Billie Eilish

Tuesday, 22nd January
Riverstage, Brisbane. Supported by Marlon Williams

Wednesday, 23rd January
Riverstage, Brisbane. Supported by Marlon Williams

Saturday, 26th January
The Domain, Sydney. Supported by Billie Eilish

Tickets: Head to https://florenceandthemachine.net/

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