“If you want to know the culprit,” Florence Welch teased, gesturing at her freshly broken foot, “this was it.” She was talking about “Dog Days Are Over,” whose unmistakable opening notes filled The Theatre at Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel. The Florence + the Machine frontwoman’s signature 2009 anthem, not surprisingly, elicited the loudest roar of the night from the capacity crowd at Wednesday evening’s between-Coachella-weekends acoustic set in the renovated gothic ex-movie palace.
“Dog Days” was, in fact, the song during which Welch jumped off the stage in Indio last Sunday, and sadly, the injuries she sustained left her relegated to a stool for much of the evening. Always a high-energy performer, Welch didn’t take well to the news that the only way to avoid a robotic walking boot was to remain seated. “It’s a f—er I can’t stand up,” she exclaimed, with comedic undertones. “I mean, it’s really s—.”
Still, she was there not only to sing but to offer a first listen of her upcoming third album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, out June 2. And limited mobility didn’t impede the 28-year-old Londoner’s vocal performance—or her good mood: She giggled at impassioned shouts of “I love you Florence!” and even brought a fan on stage for an impromptu hug.
But the songs, of course, were what sold the show. The Machine this evening was nearly 20 members strong, including an eight-deep strings section. “Dog Days” and “Cosmic Love” allow Florence to flourish, though at other times it felt as if there was too much happening, drowning out Welch’s forceful pipes.
There were multiple high points, including a harmonic crowd sing-along on “Heartlines,” and a story she told the crowd about recording a cover of the Cold War Kids’ “Hospital Beds” years ago in a crappy studio before breaking out a riff on the song for the first time in what Florence claimed was a long time. Also a showcase for some premier belting? The Calvin Harris cut “Sweet Nothing,” on which she famously guested.
Florence bemoaned being unable to bound around the stage like a maniac due to her current circumstances, but whoever bought a ticket to see the spry singer shouldn’t be bummed. Because if anything, a stripped-down Florence + the Machine showcases their best attribute—Florence’s inimitable voice—even more, and in the best way.