As the summer comes to a close and autumn readies its place on the seasonal platform, there is no better way to say goodbye to the days of fun in the sun and say hello to the days of changing foliage than going Jones Beach. And I went for a mystical night with Britain's Florence and the Machine.
On the second night of her new tour around North America in support of her internationally acclaimed album, Ceremonials, Florence made her Long Island debut at a venue that was simply perfect for her to perform in. With an art deco backdrop and a series of musicians that ranged from backup singers, multiple drummers, guitarists, pianists and a harpist, Florence's machine was ready to ignite a musical storm at the beach. Opening with "Only If For A Night," Florence, who channeled Stevie Nicks and an actress in a Greek tragedy, brought the dramatic and intrigue to her live performance. Running around the stage with a flowing dress that made it appear like she was floating across the famous theater in the water, every individual inside the amphitheater was embracing every second of it. On a brisk but beautiful night, it was perfect to be outside for one final hurrah as summer and fall were colliding with each other. It is always incredible to see any gig at Jones Beach in the company of the natural surroundings, but Saturday night was different in particular -- a new magic appeared coincidentally at the right time. During Florence singing about the moon and stars in "Cosmic Love," a shooting star dashed across the sky and took those who saw it by surprise. Moments like this are not only rare, but also only elevated what was already proving to be a fantastic night.
Sticking mainly to songs off Ceremonials, Florence's powerful voice resonates even more in concert than it does on disc, if one could believe that. Songs like "Shake it Out," "What the Water Gave Us," "Leave my Body," and "Spectrum," took on different dimensions in concert than from what we are used to hearing on our iPods. Amid lively interaction with the audience in the bleacher section right down to the front row, Florence Welch showed a different side of her personality that many did not know. While she sang and performed serious and passionate music, she was playful at heart. She explained her arrival to New York, for this tour was in the wake of the anniversary of September 11, and explained how New Yorkers really persevere and come together even all these years later. She explained her history of gigs in New York, from her debut at Bowery Ballroom nearly five years ago to her experiences at other venues and everything that led her to where she is now.
Performing for nearly 80 minutes, Florence and the Machine displayed their power, passion and musical perfection. Closing with "Dog Days are Over," it seemed to take on new life. It became much more than a catchy pop song; it became a statement that those days of hearing crap music could be a thing of the past if Florence has her say.