Florence Heals, Hugs & Stays Hippie at Governors Ball 2015
Nearly two months after breaking her ankle during Florence + the Machine's Coachella set, Florence Welch took the stage at Governors Ball 2015 with an assurance most musicians don't cop until they've enjoyed at least 10 years of acclaim.
But there's nothing presumptuous about Florence's bravado in front of a crowd of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. It's just reality -- she's a musical talent and presence we're lucky to have. Yes, Welch's voice is technically astounding, but its richness extends beyond the notes. She gives the impression that she's lived many lives within the space of one song, sometimes within the space of one breath -- it's a voice that contains multitudes.
Of course, that's all poetic posturing -- just a complicated way of saying "she's great live!" But the Whitman reference is a fitting one for Florence, who flits around the stage like a force of nature unleashed after forced captivity. Frequently after finishing a song during her Gov Ball set, Welch clutched and caressed her face, as if to embrace a foreign spirit inhabiting her body at that particular moment.
Back in the corporeal world, Governors Ball marked the band's first big show since its frontwoman's foot was usable after her Coachella misstep. On Friday night at Randall's Island, Flo only tipped to her injury verbally (at least while on stage), telling the crowd, "I keep forgetting I broke my foot" and then proceeding to jump in place mischievously.
Her behind-the-scenes team was presumably sweating bullets when the unscripted star spotted a sign in the crowd reading "hug?" and demanded satisfaction. She jumped off stage to help bring the sign-sporting girl up front for an ostentatious hug. "There's no need for a question mark at the end of 'hug'," Welch advised the fan for future reference.
In spite of her uninhibited public prancing and prowling, Florence played it safe after the show wrapped. When she was finished, a burly assistant picked her up and carried her off, presumably in order to protect her ankle (or at least appease those insuring her 2015 trek).
As high as Florence flies when she's on stage, there's always a reality check waiting to ensure the mercurial talent -- who we can reasonably expect great things from for years to come -- doesn't go Icarus on us.