Every year, there’s always a Coachella overachiever. It’s usually a small act in a midday tent, or a late-night session that unexpectedly convinces crowds to stay to the end.
This year, it was a main stage almost-headliner who played like the world was hers. Everyone’s talking about Drake and Madonna’s tawdry little smooch, but don’t be fooled -- Florence + the Machine was Sunday’s standout.
FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2015
Florence Welch has never needed to convince anyone she can really, really sing. That was apparent since her 2010 MTV Video Music Awards performance with “Dog Days Are Over,” which transfixed viewers with the raw verve and skill of a new talent. She’s since become a festival mainstay and a major-venue headliner, but somehow still easy enough to overlook with big, regal pop that never quite captured U.S. crowds as fully as her talent warranted. Even if you’d just raved to her Calvin Harris track “Sweet Nothing” in the Sahara Tent, it might have slipped your mind that her new album “How Big How Blue How Beautiful” was due on June 2.
FOR THE RECORD:
Florence + the Machine: In the April 14 Calendar section, a review of Florence + the Machine's performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival referred to a song as "Shake It Off." The title is "Shake It Out." —
That all went out the window at Coachella. Welch demolished the main stage’s huge expanse in ways that even AC/DC couldn’t hack. Her voice has never been better, and when she dug into big runs on “What Kind of Man” and “Ship to Wreck,” she made it impossible to do anything but watch her. Whether banging tambourines or prowling the front rows or just twirling and reveling in the sight of that many people at her beck and call, she earned every minute of that huge platform and took it for all it was worth.
She brought out a big, potent live band for the occasion. No singer has needed the support of backing vocalists less, but they added an unquantifiable zest and grandeur to “Shake It Out.” But Welch was a force of nature all on her own, whether hitting expert high notes, or whirling herself into captivating fits of white cloth and red hair. Fans from across the grounds ran headlong into the crowd just to soak it in.
For the Record
April 14, 10:49 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misidentified one of Florence + the Machine's songs as “Shake It Off.” The correct title is “Shake It Out.”
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that a second-billed main stage act put on such a show. Of course she’s good, of course she had won a crowd. But still, as the Sunday night field buzzed with Drake anticipation, for about an hour on Sunday night, Welch took Coachella by the throat and made it hers.
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