Florence and the Machine: Big, Blue, Beautiful...and Back

Emily Monasterio

In the past two months, Florence and The Machine have performed twice at San Francisco’s Masonic as well as for Weekend one of Coachella, where they featured music off of their new album, entitled How Big How Blue How Beautiful. This new album is coming a whopping four years after their sophomore album, Ceremonials, was released, giving the band ample time to rest up and top their previous two chart topping albums.We assess the comeback.

Coachella Sunset

Already scheduled to perform on day three of Coachella, the band decided to schedule two last minute performances up here in San Francisco’s Masonic, only a few days before Weekend One of Coachella. Although the venues and performances were different, one thing was made clear from both: Florence and The Machine is back.
The band’s performance at the Masonic marked their first in the United States for their new album, which Florence Welch mentions was named after the beautiful American sky. They performed many new songs including, ‘What Kind of Man’, ‘Ship to Wreck’, and the title of the album ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’. These new hits were scattered amongst crowd favorites such as ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘What The Water Gave Me’.
The Masonic, located in Nob Hill, is one of the top venues for live music in San Francisco, pulling artists such as Third Eye Blind, The Replacements, and Grammy Album of The Year winner, Beck. To paint a picture, the California Masonic Memorial Temple, as it is officially called, is a large modernist building with enormous entryway columns that are overwhelmingly beautiful. As you enter, artwork by the American artist Emile Norman hangs from the Temple’s lobby.

Florence Masonic

The newly renovated music hall has tiered open floor and seated areas, beautiful hanging chandeliers, multiple bars and concession stands, and even luxury VIP boxes. The venue’s overall aesthetic and past performances rank it amongst the top places to watch live music in San Francisco. Check out some of our other top 6 spots for live music in SF here.
Despite the smaller stage size, Florence and the Machine hypnotized the audience, with Welch running back and forth, jumping up on speakers, and thrusting her body to the beat. Their performance peaked with ‘Dog Days Are Over’, in which Welch declared the band was trying something new for this song, encouraging audience members to remove an item of clothing as they jumped up and down with her. Shoes, jackets, and even bras were flailing in the air as the audience simultaneously jumped to the final chorus.
Welch’s booming voice is vastly different from her soft-spoken word, but she was able to captivate the audience from her very first breath until her final bow. Her backup vocalists added to the all consuming sound and the rest of the band successfully kept up with her high energy throughout the show.

Florence Masonic

Believe it or not, Florence and The Machine’s Coachella performance actually topped their more intimate performance at the Masonic. Performing on Sunday at the main stage, scheduled right before Coachella’s closer, Drake, Florence and the Machine stunned their audience. Wearing all white, down to her bra that she ran around in at the end, Florence Welch took full advantage of the energy both on and off the stage. At any given moment, you could find security chasing after her as she jumped off stage and sprinted through the grass, all while belting out lyrics to top hits like ‘Shake it Out’.
The set list was almost identical to the band’s performance at the Masonic, with the exception of closing with ‘Dog Days are Over’, yet each song was more powerful due to the sheer size of the space and the enormous energy both from the band and from the audience.
Welch made sure to mention again where the inspiration for the album title came from. Except this time, she indicated that it wasn’t just the beautiful American sky, but it was, in fact, the Los Angeles sky that inspired the band.
She had many inspiring words throughout her performance, encouraging the audience to ‘embrace each other’ as well as explaining that, ‘something good will always happen in the end’, prefacing their newest released single ‘Ship To Wreck’.
Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 776 7457

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio, CA, USA +1 888 512 7469

By Emily Monasterio

Emily, a San Francisco native and recent graduate of Santa Clara University, enjoys all her bright and bubbling city has to offer. You can find her checking out the latest that live music has to offer or enjoying the beautiful weather in any of the numerous San Francisco parks.

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