By: Joseph Kathmann
Boy do I have some words about this show. So first off, I love Florence + The Machine. Even though I did feel that her new album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful did an unfortunately good job of highlighting her biggest flaw (her inability to deliver decent songs beyond her singles) I still greatly enjoyed the singles off her album, and thought it was.....fine. However, I loved Ceremonials and Between the Lungs. Additionally, the Ascend Amphitheater is a brand new amphitheater in the heart of Nashville. And when Music City announces a giant new Amphitheater is coming, you know that's a big deal. Unfortunately, I left this show extremely disappointed and upset, and I will tell you why.
First off, let's talk about the venue. Aesthetically, it's gorgeous. With one exception. See that blue lining in the picture at the roof of the theater? Really cool right? Well, maybe I'm just being OCD, but I did notice that the entire rest of the city went with red lighting. And Ascend's logo is a red logo. So the blue lighting does stick out a bit overall, and with Ascend's logo being red....why did they ok blue lighting around the venue? A question for the ages. As for the venue itself....it is shockingly huge while feeling small. Even though I was several rows into the GA lawn, (which was still a good 40 seated rows away from the stage) I really felt like I had a great view of the artist. The lawn was a hill, (obviously) but here in lies another complaint. This "hill" was clearly manmade, but it was an extremely minuscule angle. Thus, tall people like me will still block people of even average height behind me. This is far and away my biggest complaint of the venue. I understand that a steeper hill would've been a little uncomfortable, but I think all the average height/short people would've thanked you for it. Finally, why aren't the TVs elevated off the stage? Cause guess what? If you're short and you're behind me you still can't see those TVs. While they were of exceptional quality, they really needed to be elevated. Hopefully the crew will fix this going into their winter break. I do have one other major complaint, but I'll get to that in talking about Florence's set. Fortunately, everything else was awesome. The venue was extremely accessible, and the crew did an excellent job getting thousands of people into the venue in about 30 minutes from a single entrance. A logistical nightmare if there ever was one, but they handled it like a champ. Just.....have someone inform the audience if the band is going to go on an hour later than previously announced. Don't just Tweet it. Because everyone who doesn't follow your Twitter page will get extremely antsy when 8:30 rolls around and they thought the band was supposed to go on at 8 and they actually go on at 9. Those last 20 minutes were pretty tense within the audience to say the least. (Yes, people actually thought Florence was standing them up or super late and was gonna have to do a shortened set to be done by curfew or something. I was worried that the latter was happening.)
But, once 9 rolled around, Florence hit the stage. This was an odd show overall. First off, there was no opener. Which most of the people didn't seem to mind, but it also made for a bit of a warmup for both Florence and her audience as everyone who had been sitting in the cold for hours had to register that music was actually being played. It wasn't until "Shake It Out" that everyone really started having fun. Florence was also clearing warming up in her first two songs, but I'll give her a pass cause this was her first show in a few weeks and the opening show for her US tour in support of the new album. But she clearly had a blast during "Shake It Out" as well. From there, we got a 100 minute set full of wild ups and downs. The ups? When Florence was playing her singles. The downs? When she was playing anything else. That said, there's something special about Florence Welch. She only talked a few times throughout her set, but when she did.....I discovered that her natural talking voice sounds NOTHING like her singing voice. But there's a presence to her. A presence that reminds me very similar of (yes, I'm about to say it) Taylor Swift. Florence is incredibly awkward, and yet when she talked, you listened. You want to be around Florence. Even as she danced around the stage. She is the ultimate hippie.
But then something happened about an hour into her set. I noticed that Florence's energy was starting to dwindle, and I couldn't figure out why at first. Then it hit me: there was no space for a pit up front. Not only that, but there was no room at the front at all for the fans to do anything more than jump up and down. Kinda. Look, Ascend. I get that you want to charge $800 for front row seats. And I know the reason you don't have a pit is so that when the upper class pays $800 for a front row seat, they know they are going to actually be in the front row. But, the artists rely on energy from the crowd. And when the crowd right in front of them can't do anything, their energy is going to suffer. For a musician, this is a HUGE strike against the venue, and I highly doubt Florence will want to come back to it again. It's not just about the money, guys.
So Florence's energy was wavering, but she was still whizzing through her hits and some "deep cuts." After "Dog Days Are Over" wrapped up, Florence left the stage, and the inevitable cheer for the encore ensued. Boy did I wish it hadn't. Florence's encore was.......terrible. Quite possibly the worst encore I have ever heard. Her encore is why I left angry. She came back on awkwardly for a rendition of "What Kind of Man," but after that we get....."Drumming Song?" And that's it? That's IT? A two song encore? More importantly, Florence skipped over two of her biggest hits in "You've Got the Love" and "No Light, No Light." These songs were staples in a Florence set but were nowhere to be found here. I payed a lot of money to see Florence + The Machine. I had a not-so-spectacular seat, got no opener, then watched Florence get on the stage an hour late and still leave 15 minutes before curfew. Maybe I've been spoiled over the years in Cincinnati. (Cough cough) But I realized I was angry because I felt like I didn't get my money's worth. Why was there no opener? Why did we only get a 100 minute set? I mean that would be enough for a normal show but when you have no opener I would expect a 120 minute set at least. An "Evening with" set would be my expectation. (two 75-90 minute sets) But we didn't get any of this. We payed $40 to see Florence play for 100 minutes. And we didn't even get to hear all her biggest hits.
This leads flawlessly into my conclusion. I love Florence + The Machine. But holy crap is she not worth going and seeing live at anywhere other than a music festival. That said, she is worth seeing. But at a (wait for it) music festival. Not by herself. She is quintessential festival material, (I probably sound like a broken record at this point) and if you add a pit her energy would be off the charts. Go see Florence + The Machine, (even you, Derek) but only when she's performing at a festival near you.
1) What the Water Gave Me
2) Ship to Wreck
3) Shake It Out
4) Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
5) Third Eye
7) How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
8) Cosmic Love
9) Long & Lost
11) Queen of Peace
13) Dog Days Are Over
1) What Kind of Man
2) Drumming Song
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: