I’ve never done a cartwheel in my life. As a chubby six-year-old, I watched my friends spin around the room — insisting it was easy — but I kept falling on my shoulders.
That all changed last night. I mean, I may not have lugged my 175 pounds up and over each other. But I grasped the dizzying thrill of launching your insides against gravity. It felt like helium joy and sounded like Florence Welch.
Last night, Florence + the Machine returned to Minnesota for the first time since 2016, zipping closed the High As Hope Tour at the Target Center in Minneapolis. She had a lot of competition; Ed Sheeran packed U.S. Bank Stadium a mile away, and Jain sold out the Fine Line just blocks over. Attendance flagged accordingly, to the point where some nosebleed ticketholders were handed floor wristbands. But the arena felt full anyway.
As far as live shows, Florence + the Machine have finally phased out most of the Lungs songs that buoyed Welch to icon status. In fact, she performed only two of my top 10 career-spanning favorites (omitted: “Drumming Song,” “Rabbit Heart [Raise It Up],” “Swimming,” “Howl,” “Heavy In Your Arms,” “What The Water Gave Me,” “Spectrum,” and “Long & Lost”). It didn’t matter. Watching her break loose in twirls and leaps, I found a mounting appreciation for High As Hope and its streamlined elegance.
As a society, we normally conceive of authority as militaristic, but Florence proved you can lead in a gauzy pastel peach dress. “I encourage anyone still sitting to stand up,” she told the audience a few songs in, meek and sibilant as a cartoon snake. Everyone did. Later, she’d ask the audience, strangers included, to hold each other’s hands. A shocking number followed suit. We put away our phones to jump during “Dog Days Are Over,” and we pulled them back out to light the room in “Cosmic Love.”
“I hope you came prepared,” Florence told the audience, “cause this is a very physical show.” She honored those words when she lowered herself off the stage and sprinted down the side of the arena, stopping to frolic with fans and singing “Delilah” the whole way through. She finished the track in the middle of a jumping throng.
To be honest, I’ve always known why I couldn’t cartwheel. It had less to do with size than I pretended, and more to do with courage. I fell because I wasn’t brave enough to plant my hands somewhere I couldn’t see, to really try for an anti-gravity launch. And it’s that inhibition Florence + the Machine helped me shed.
I’m not going to lie about wishing St. Vincent and Lizzo had opened this leg of the High As Hope Tour…but Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) managed it fine. To my ear, his music — the chord progressions and instrumentation — would be unremarkable in any pensive drama. But Hadreas’s skittery vocal melodies ratchet up an unconventional tension, intriguing some and frustrating me for the lack of any hooks. As he sang, he worked the stage, thrashing and bending in a fashion as slippery as his blue silk shirt.
Florence’s team denied The Current a photo pass, but in the same way I put away my phone when she asked, I’m happy to walk away with mental images alone. Here are some you should see:
- Florence headbanging on top of the barricade to the guitar hits in “What Kind Of Man,” her nearly waist-length red hair flying back and forth
- Thousands of fingers intertwined with other hands, raised above the crowd during “South London Forever”
- A glitter-haired fan in the front row stage-fainting after Florence laid hands upon him
- One woman’s elated expression after she reentered the arena to find Florence Welch singing “Delilah” a few feet away; the two of them found each other and jumped face-to-face, hair bouncing, before Florence ran off to the next intimate moment
Florence + the Machine Set List
Between Two Lungs
Only If For A Night
Queen Of Peace
South London Forever
Dog Days Are Over
Ship To Wreck
The End Of Love
What Kind Of Man
Shake It Off