Last Thursday night I was washing in my hands in the bathroom at Manhattan's Le Poisson Rouge when a skinny guy who looked like Noel and Liam Gallagher's secret brother asked me about the act we were both there to see. "Is Florence And The Machine popular here?" he wondered.
I told him that Florence Welch (the Machine refers to whichever musicians happen to be backing her at any given time), isn't really a household name. But after watching her show, I would've added, "She's on her way, though."
Dressed in a puffy Victorian-style white dress and shawl and playing songs from her debut album, Lungs, released last year, Welch, ghostly pale and gifted with fiery red hair, come off like a Tim Burtonized version of Stevie Nicks. She's got some of the same witchy charisma as the Fleetwood Mac singer, but her boisterous physicality made her seem less remote, as if she'd braid her friends' hair after they all finished with the Ouija board.
On record, Lungs tracks like "Kiss With A Fist" and "Dog Days Are Over," come off as exuberant pop (though with a dark lyrical edge), but live, backed by the at times overly slick Machine, Welch sang with more snap, making her bluesy voice swoop and soar. Maybe it was the tequila shots she was downing onstage, gifts from fans in the front row.
As English exports like Robbie Williams and Paul Weller can tell you, what's big in Old Blighty doesn't always repeat its success across the Atlantic, but if Welch suffers the same fate, it won't be her fault. She's a star, it just remains to be seen if we'll treat her like one.
But what's your take? Do you think Florence will make it over here? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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