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Pay heed to your heart and not to your wit. Don't say in a letter what you can't in my ear.
Posts by Steph Lauren
Originating from London, England, Florence and the Machine was formed in 2007. Dabbling in a variety of genres, including soul and indie pop, the band is fronted by 24 year-old Florence Welch. After releasing their debut album Lungs in 2009, the band rose to the top of the UK album charts, and began garnering worldwide success, appearing on American television series and performing at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards. They are currently on their Lungs concert tour.
The pressure for “next big thing” bands is constantly running on high. With the music industry constantly churning out musical products, it’s refreshing to hear a novel sound arrive on the forefront. So soon after their debut album, Florence and the Machine’s place in the international spotlight has quickly garnered a large fan following. From the melodic beat to the organic inspiration, Florence’s tour provides the crowd with flair worthy of its’ attention.
At Sound Academy in Toronto, after two highly lack-luster performances by opening bands, the Florence’s arrival onstage at quarter to eleven sparked the crowd into a frenzy. After stellar appearances during last years’ Brit Awards and more recently, Dancing with the Stars, her fans have come to anticipate her flawless vocals. But what we’ve gotten used to seeing- more demure performances- no one can really anticipate how alive she becomes onstage.
From her first song to the last, Florence performing can only be described as pure spectacle. While the audience lost themselves in the capricious beat, none could compare to the singer’s infectious style. Dancing and quite literally prancing across the stage, I can vouch that every note sung carried a drive and passion almost too large for someone so small. One of the most incredible feats was Florence’s experimentation with her own vocal abilities, fluctuating the pitch of her voice to conclude most of her songs. The audience was reminded that Florence is no one-trick pony; the lady’s got lungs, and she’s not afraid to use them.
Florence’s set also manages to bring magic to a stage that easily could have fallen flat. While waiting the half hour before Florence graced the stage, I spent the time squinting in the dim light, trying to make out the design or pattern. When Florence finally arrived onstage at quarter to eleven, whatever conclusion I had made was swiftly thrown out the window. At each song, the lighting, synchronized to perfection with Florence’s flamboyant performance, was cast upon the screen each time to a unique effect. During the opener, Howl, I saw a tapestry of vines, during Cosmic Love, a farm field, and Dog Days Are Over, a forest; all imagery well-suited to Florence’s whimsical, naturalist vintage persona, and, if I may say, quite the trip.
While Florence and the Machine’s mostly alternative fans are mildly known for their easygoing behaviour at concerts, I can happily report that the audience’s response was anything but placid; for every song, the venue reverberated with the voices of the crowd, belting out tunes along with the ardent singer. It was easy to get swept up in the fiery delivery of the lyrics, and to say that it was an incredible experience is putting it mildly, especially when it was clear how tickled Florence was with her reception.
Expectations were high for Florence and the Machine, despite her considerable newcomer status. But from the stage to the set to the music and to the performance, hopefully Florence’s career will reflect her show; vibrant, colourful, and altogether spectacular.
- Steph Lauren
Amidst the excitement of the current World Tour, Gorillaz fans were treated with another unexpected but eagerly embraced surprise; the release of the new single, Doncamatic (All Played Out). Ripe with heavy funk influence and the smooth vocals of young UK talent, Daley, the track is set for international release on November 22nd, but click the link for an exclusive listen! Be sure to check back for a review of the Gorillaz World Tour as they hit Toronto’s ACC on October 14th.
- Steph Lauren
Marina and the Diamonds is an indie pop band fronted by Welsh singer Marina Diamandis. Formed in 2007, Marina’s debut album, The Family Jewels, has received various praises from publications such as BBC Music and NME. Marina describes her image as “vintage, cheerleader, and cartoon”, and draws inspiration from a range of artists, including PJ Harvey and Dolly Parton.
“I fucking love you, Marina!”
They’re the first coherent words shouted from the crowd as Marina graces the stage at around half past nine in Toronto’s Opera House. While the crowd cheers away, the overly enthusiastic fan is only a few feet from my right, writhing in what appears to be orgiastic bliss. His girlfriend stands behind him, slightly embarrassed. The object of his obsession, decked in bright Ray-Bans, and black pajamas scattered with florescent pink hearts, smiles demurely and giggles from the stage.
This description pretty much sets the mood for the entirety of the concert. Marina, from the very start, is the centre of the crowd’s attention. While some of it may have to do with the solemnity that’s often apparent as she belts out her tunes (not unlike Lady Gaga’s deep and utter respect for the undying art that is pop), it is her sweet and playful persona that easily makes her an audience darling. Using props (including two glowing florescent hearts during her performance of I Am Not A Robot) and her own infectious enthusiasm, Marina very clearly tries to make up for an economic but basic stage set-up.
However lacking the aesthetic aspect of the show, the music is in top form. As an avid listener to the debut album, it’s kind of eerie how very studio the music sounds. Kicking off with The Outsider, the rest of the show revels in the same pop-alternative genre reminiscent of other British exports such as Mika and Lily Allen, with a foundation in a definitive eighties synth. Marina’s own warbling vocals sounds like it’s straight off the CD, delighting us fans with a piano rendition of Obsessions in her familiar style. In an escape for the normally hectic beat of her songs, Marina slowed down the last song of 3OH!3’s Starstrukk, making the chorus sound even more ridiculous as it does in its’ regular tempo. Though Marina and her band mates leave the stage, not two minutes later they return, for their, in my opinion, most sought after single, Mowgli’s Road. The crowd goes wild.
Though scarcity on stage values is a reality for all fledgling bands, there’s enough energy from the lead singer to forget the need for theatrics. Though always great on the IPod, Marina’s tunes are made to be played in a hall with eager fans and endless fervor.
The guy to my right would agree.
- Steph Lauren
Shampain – Marina and the Diamonds [MP3]: