Florence hits the XX spot.

Event: Florence and the Machine + The XX live in concert
Date: February 7, 2010 (Sunday)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre, Singapore

It has been a while since my last concert stint, let alone one that goes on in Singapore. Not counting MTV World Stage and the humiliating pukefest at Hennessy Artistry, the last full fledge concert for me was Coldplay‘s back in March. That is almost a year ago. Even when I heard the throngs of bands making their way down to Singapore in January – ie. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day and supposedly, The Killers – I could not even find it in me to make myself go to any of it. Like a guy who couldn’t get it up after being abstinence for a year.

It was on New Year’s Day, after spending another lonely New Year’s Eve the night before, when I woke up in the morning and decided I would like to go to a concert. And since I have made The XX’s self-titled album one of my top 5 favourite albums of 2009, I thought it was only right to go to their concert last weekend. Besides, SGD73 for two bands – that is a fucking steal for me who just wants to reawaken my concert bug.

I knew I should have bought the floor seatings, even though the seats left were the ones way at the back. Because when The XX came on stage and Jamie Smith fired up the MPC with Intro that opened the album oh so well, as if it was part of their gimmick, the crowd from the floor seatings flooded to the front of the stage almost simultaneously. It was quite a sight, actually. But me, being way up on the second level, could only watch and brood, and remind myself never to buy balcony seats. Ever.

Seeing The XX live, was like being transported into the twilight zone. What with Smith’s captivating beats, and Romy Madley Croft’s guitar riffs, which could probably be an entirely new band member on its own. And the switching strobe lights of yellow, blue, red and green on the simple set of double X’s. It is easy to just close your eyes, and feel the melodic strums of Crystalised, Islands and Night Time seep into your veins. I did just all of that, but I think I fell asleep during the last song, Infinity. I don’t care what you say; it was a long day for me, alright?

It is not to say I do not enjoy seeing them live, but I suppose there is nothing to shout about. I was not expecting much anyway. They were pretty much the same as they are in their album. Croft (who sometimes sounded like Lisa Hannigan with a perpetual sore throat) and Oliver Sim were not the best singers out there, but they pretty much made up for everything with their instruments, which we already knew upon listening to XX. They played almost everything off the album, except – of all songs to leave out – Heart Skipped a Beat, which was my favourite, and Stars.

And just like that, the first half was over, and the next thing I knew, I was standing in line to go to the washroom with a quivering bladder. Heh.

Things sort of perked up when it was time for Florence and the Machine. I, for one, definitely was refreshed when Florence Welch strolled out to the stage with her flowing skirt and legs that go on for fucking miles.

All you lucky ones by the stage, I hope at least one of you grazed her legs for me – either purposely or accidentally – instead of just reaching for her hand, and taking pictures with her. Throughout the night, I was just waiting for her to throw back her skirt one more time just to have another glimpse of her lovely legs. Heh.

I thought they would have picked a better song to open their set than My Boy Makes Coffin. But the crowd did not mind. Right after that was the debut single that put Florence and the Machine on the map to stardom – Kiss with a Fist. Upbeat and contagious, everyone was dancing and banging their heads along to the beat.

But I especially love what she had done to Blinding, my favourite off the album Lungs. With Christopher Llyod Hadden’s profuse and prim thumps of the drums and Tom Monger’s staccato riffs on the harp, to go with the ten yellow lights beaming at us at the upper levels, and Welch’s perfectly toned voice for the chorus of “No more dreaming like a girl so in love, so in love / No more dreaming like a girl so in love with the wrong world”. I could feel every beat of the drum, and every pluck of the strings, and every syllable of her words. Like a tattoo etching a reminder on my skin – forever.

It could pretty much be the climax of the show.

Sexy legs aside, Welch is pretty much a chirpy character onstage. Although I found it rather amusing when she rambled on on how glad she was to be in Singapore and the fine city (no pun intended, or is there?), I thought it was cute of her when she started entertaining two fans at the front with their polaroids – snapping shots with them, and even took a couple of the crowd with the house lights on.

And it was a beautiful sight – but yet again, an envious one – when she got the entire crowd jumping in unison to her fun loving Dog Days Are Over. Ah, to be in the midst of the crowd then.

Florence and the Machine pretty much performed all the songs off Lungs – the screamus maximus Howl, Drumming Song that sounded too much like Beyonce’s Crazy in Love for comfort, a cover of Cold War Kids’ Hospital Beds, and for the finale, another beloved number – Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) with the fans hitting her back with echoes of “Raise it up, Raise it up!” along with Hadden’s catchy rhythms.

It was nice to be able to include Florence and the Machine and The XX on my ‘have seen live in concert’ list, especially since they are quite new a band to even consider swinging by Singapore. With the crappy seats I have (and for that, I apologise for the crappy concert pictures again), and the fact that they are less than 5 years old as a band, and also that I am new to them as well (I actually only checked out Florence and the Machine for the sake of the concert, really), I do not really have any expectations for them to blow me away.

It was a good experience, nonetheless. Florence and the Machine over The XX, though. Lesson learned, of course: if I were to see them live again, I will definitely make sure to get floor seating tickets, even if it is only to be able to graze Welch’s lovelies. Heh.


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