CONCERT || Florence + the Machine [SSE Arena, Belfast]

Monday, 14 September 2015

Last month my best friend texted me asking what my rota was like around the 9th and 10th of September. My rotas are barely out for when the week changes over so to know what I would be working in about four weeks was next to impossible. It's basically the same with 6am starts. It's just what days I have off that are unknown. However, I knew exactly why she was asking. She was getting tickets for Florence + the Machine. I knew that this concert was happening on those dates as I had tweeted my brother with a hint for my birthday and so I replied back to her with, "If it's about Florence. My rota shouldn't matter". I know my dates, people.

Eventually the 9th of September rolled around. I was exhausted. I was cranky. I was dealing with crap and with working on very little sleep, I knew that this day would be a busy one. I had work in the morning, I had Friday's tutorial to film, I had to do my makeup for the concert, give my Dad his birthday presents, get up to Belfast, pick up the bestie on the way, get food and get to the SSE Arena early enough so that we'd get a damn good view because we were standing and all of that on very little sleep. 

We stuffed ourselves with Boojum. I love Boojum so much. It's probably my favourite place in Belfast to eat. I will eat there for lunch 99.9% of the time when in the city. It's a Mexican Burrito Bar and everything is delicious. 

Once fed and watered, I got a gigantic skinny Caramel Macchiatto from Starbucks just to get some caffeine into me as I was driving. Oh and a cookie. I ate all my veggies in Boojum so I was going to get my reward. Haha.

The drive to the SSE Arena was extremely short and not as stressful as I thought. I'm not the most confident of a driver when it comes to dealing with lanes and knowing which one to be in, especially when it comes to parts of Belfast that I'm not accustomed to driving around. We got there shortly before 5:50pm and the doors where opening at 6:30pm. There was already a queue starting at this point but it wasn't enough people to cover the front of the stage from left to right so we were grand. Thankfully, the weather was pleasant, i.e. not raining. It was chilly but a bearable chill for us up north.

Eventually, we got into the arena and the waiting began. We were right at the barrier just off from centre. I was stood behind somebody else. I could've gone to a part of the barrier that wasn't occupied but it wasn't a good place to see the stage. It would've been purely side-on. In the spot that I was, I was only slightly side-on. I would happily accept that. 

It would be another hour and a half before the support act took to the stage. To support Florence + the Machine were a trio of sisters, The Staves. They walked onto the stage quietly and performed the most beautiful and harmonious a capella song with a solitary spotlight on them, their accompanying band in darkness. From that moment, I knew that I would like them. I have a soft spot for harmony bands. Saffyre on Facebook are one of them. 

These sisters did not disappoint. Their melodies were pristine and what made it so magical for me was their voices and the harmonies that they managed to create. Whenever I listen to these harmonies, I always feel as if I've been whisked away to a Celtic fairy land. Now that I mention it, the sisters could have passed for elven princesses with their look. Plus, with Florence's boho/hippy vibe, they were the perfect warm-up act. I will definitely be following their career with intrigue.

Once the Staves left, the tech team swarmed the stage and got it set up for the main attraction. Surprisingly, they were very quick in getting the miles of cables sorted, getting some of the lights tested and setting carpet down. The spoiler alert for the fact that Florence would be barefoot. Plus, they had to bring the professional photographers in and be briefed. It was shortly after 9:15pm that the lights were dimmed again and the band took to the stage. This was the moment that I knew that Florence Welch was about to be less than two metres in front of me. 

Florence wandered almost dazed onto the stage as if she was looking around a wonderland that she happened to find herself in. Then she sprung to life as the music started to really get into the intro for 'What The Water Gave Me' from her Ceremonials album. That is one of my most favourite songs from Ceremonials (though I love them all). 

Florence was pitch perfect. I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing when she was singing. She was flawless. Utterly flawless to my ear. But I could just be saying that because we was right there, right in front of me and I was basking in her pure glory. You really cannot deny the pipes on this woman. You really can't as her voice was just incredible live. Her range is enviable. I'm currently in rehearsals for a musical and I would give my thumbs to sing like that. 

What surprised me the most about Florence was her boundless energy. From the get-go she was racing from one side of the stage to the other, bouncing up the steps, climbing onto the scaffolding there before jumping down and racing to the opposite side. Absolutely unfailing in energy. Whatever she's eating or drinking, I want it. 

There was a wonderful balance between all of her albums. She did several songs from Lungs (Drumming Song being part of her encore which I screamed for!), Ceremonials, (Spectrum being my favourite) and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. I must admit that I haven't listened to her latest album as much as I have wanted to but I will say, she sang everything so beautifully. Ship To Wreck was particularly flawless..

From her latest release she sang, Ship to Wreck, Queen of Peace (she rocked this one) How Big,How Blue,How Beautiful (she did a dance for this where she said that she slapped her face over and over for - she's so cute!), Delilah and St. Jude to name a few from my memory. Ship to Wreck saw her bouncing and jumping and dancing all over the stage attesting to that boundless energy. She even pirouetted from one side of the stage to the other for another song, spotting and everything. Is there anything that this woman cannot do? To contrast this energy, during St. Jude, she stood with the microphone perched on its stand and just sang. 

In between songs, Florence would speak for a few minutes to tell the story behind a certain song. I couldn't have found her more adorable if I tried. With such an incredible voice, you tend to forget that Florence is still a very young woman. At only twenty-nine years of age, she's younger than my brother and she's playing to these arenas and festivals like the professional that she is. She takes it in her stride but at times, you can just see that Florence is still a young woman taking it all in. In those moments you see Florence, just Florence and not Florence and the Machine. Those were my favourite moments. Those were the moments that I felt her beauty really shone through.

I know that there are people out there that say that she's not the most photogenic of singers. Eh, rude! Once you hear her sing, that beauty pours out of every single pore. I found Florence absolutely breathtaking. When she stood at the edge of the stage and looked down at where I was standing, I felt completely enveloped by her eyes and her presence and when she smiled, she lit up the entire arena. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She truly is an ethereal beauty and a goddess. I don't care what anyone else says. 

Every now and then, she would pause and just look out at the audience as if captivated by our endless applause and cheering and not quite believing that it was all for her. The Belfast concert was the first night of the How Big Tour and if that night was anything to go by, it will be an epic tour. 

I cannot thank my best friend enough for my early birthday present. It was the best concert that I've ever been to. I haven't been to a lot but this one was certainly the best. I didn't get any merchandise or a programme but I did get a lot of photographs and videos. Now to roll on my actual birthday!

Disclaimer: All photographs used in this post are my own. I took them myself. Please do not repost or redistribute them without my permission. 

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