All week I had been hearing mixed opinions about Florence and the Machine replacing Foo Fighters at Glastonbury – some thought it was a risky move and others weren’t phased, or seemed to agree with the tabloids: ‘GO WITH THE FLO.’
The only good thing about being ill on a Friday night in June was the fact that it was a perfect excuse to watch the Glastonbury coverage on BBC Three without interruption. However, as many of you will know, they only cover limited songs from each set that they choose from – Friday night’s picks were Catfish and the Bottlemen (yay), Jungle, Wolf Alice (excellent stuff), The Vaccines (tight white jeans will appear on men’s legs after this) and James Bay, who was sporting his favoured hat and one of the highlights of the night for me and proving why he deserved his Critic’s Choice Award.
I kept flicking between the TV and live streaming online, and knew it would be silly to wait until 11pm for Flo’s set. So I went onto the Pyramid Stage web cam at 10.15, eagerly watching the stage in between members of the crowd and pretended to be there, cider in hand. Cheers from the crowd at quarter past on the dot indicated that something was happening, and there she was, Florence Welch in a shimmering silver suit…and no shoes. Classic Flo.
The band opened with ‘What The Water Gave Me’ and it was enough to cement the fact that this band, who first performed at Glastonbury back in 2009 in the Tiny Tea Tent, were meant to step in for the Foos. I’d watched Dave Grohl live in Manchester play to us, a crowd out in the open air whilst it was raining, and thought that he would be happy for Florence and the Machine at this moment. He is one of those singers who doesn’t give a shit about what you think of him, but is also like a friend to you in his mannerisms and the way he interacts with the crowd.
Florence interacted the same way in which Dave likes to have a conversation with the audience – she kept asking people to ‘turn to one another and tell them you love them’, and at one point asked everyone to take off part of their clothes and ‘raise it high above your head’ during ‘Rabbit Heart. She is an enigmatic performer, not a pop star but an artist in every way – using her hands to express her fondness to the crowd, all the while enrapturing everybody with her vocals during my personal favourites ‘Cosmic Love’, ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and ‘Ship To Wreck’. Florence was running around vivaciously in bare feet and it’s no wonder that her mother was terrified she would fall, who Florence announced was covering her eyes with her hands worried that she would break something.
The band’s closing song ‘Dog Days Are Over’ was a perfect ending to a perfect headliner. You could really feel the energy of the crowd and most of all, Florence’s appreciation of the moment. Aside from being one of those songs I listened to constantly on repeat back in 2009, a mere 17 year old (*sigh*) which tugs at the heart strings, the song captured the meaning of exactly what Glastonbury Festival is all about – ‘leave all your love and your longing behind, you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.’ Put more simply: forgetting about yesterday and tomorrow and enjoying the moment – peace and love and all that.