Like a whole generation of art-pop icons from the 1980s—Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Grace Slick—UK singer Florence Welch, who performs as Florence and the Machine at Shoreline on Oct. 5, strikes a delicate balance between tense, over-the-top theatrical rock and infectious, bread-and-butter pop hooks. But she has something her forebears didn’t—acute vocal precision, the kind that singers with vocal coaches at the age of two have. Yet her voice has a natural, classical soul undertone that would impress Adele.
That’s no shortage of influences for one singer. Yet, it’s a perfect fit for her band, Florence and the Machine, which offers a hodge-podge of musical styles and gets described as art-pop mostly by default. They embrace bits of garage-rock, tribal music and angelic overtures, well, at least on the first Florence and the Machine album, Lungs. The 2011 follow-up, Ceremonials dropped the garage and dance sounds and instead focused solely on harp-strumming, operatic music.
The neo-Enya, art-pop gem is an entirely different beast than the band’s first single, “Kiss with a Fist,” which introduced the band in 2008 with an angry three-chord dance-punk jam that could almost pass for an Alanis Morissette breakup anthem.
Lungs came out a year later and became huge in the UK—like Oasis huge—staying on the Top 40 charts there for 65 consecutive weeks as the top selling album in 2009 and in 2010. The U.S. audience is a little behind, but the massive hit “Dog Days Are Over” quickly erased any lag.
Florence and the Machine headlines Shoreline Amphitheater, a venue with the magnitude to truly display the mesmerizing, grandiose nature of Florence and the Machine and its ascent.