In this reviewer’s opinion this line up could be classed as a double header. For those people who turned up just to see Florence and the Machine unfortunately they missed out on one of the best up and coming artists in the UK at the minute, The Staves.
The Staves are English sister trio Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley–Taylor and they delivered a performance that was full of perfect harmonies, heartfelt lyrics and great songs of both pain and hope from their two studio albums “Dead & Born & Grown” and “If I Was”. In truth the band are better suited to smaller venues, like The Festival Marquee in which they played at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast this year, and the bigger venue of the SSE Odyssey unfortunately saw the band a little lost against the backdrop of constant chatter from the crowd not so patiently waiting on Florence and the Machine to play. That said the band played an excellent set which included the songs Winter Trees, Make It Holy and finishing with the excellent Teeth White, showcasing everything that is good about the band. My only hope for the evening is that The Staves gained a few new fans amongst the chattering masses.
Twenty-fifteen has been a big year for Florence and the Machine. The band has returned to the forefront of the UK music scene with the release of the album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” and a headline spot at Glastonbury. Florence Welch described the last few years as an emotional roller-coaster but during this opening night of her biggest UK tour delivered a set that far exceeded the expectations of this reviewer.
The set Florence delivered tonight was full of energy, great songs and was performed by a woman who looks like she has fallen back in love with life and her music. “Ship to Wreck”, taken from her latest studio album was early in the set and had the near full house at the SSE Arena on their feet and hanging on every word that Florence uttered. The stage was set up in a red curtain draped theatre style and was a perfect backdrop to a show that was full of drama and a singer who danced and twirled her way back and forth around the stage for the entire evening.
Early on in the set “Rabbit Heart” saw Florence out amongst the crowd balancing on the ice hockey arena’s sideboards. It was a fabulous moment of a great night and you could tell from Florence Welch’s face when she got back onto the stage that, whilst she had probably broken every health and safety rule in the place, it had been great fun both for her and the audience.
The opening few bars of Florence’s cover of Candi Staton’s “You Got The Love” are welcomed by the audience just like you would expect with a chorus of cheers right around the Arena and it was followed up with “How Big How Blue and How Beautiful”, a song about being in love with everyone and every place. The emotional roller-coaster Florence has been on are played out in the lyrics of every song taken from her latest album and showcased tonight.
Florence Welch implored the audience to take off their clothes and hug all those around them and in true Belfast fashion some audience members took this literally and shed items of clothing which were thrown on stage much to Florence’s delight. Every time Florence asked the audience to get up and dance they responded. She had the Belfast crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. Classic Florence songs like “Dog Days Are Over” were received as if they were her latest song release. This was the first night of Florence’s “How Big” UK Arena Tour and I for one think it is safe to say that it exceeded all expectations and provided a perfect evening’s entertainment. And I got to see The Staves again!!! Michael Ferguson, GiggingNI.com