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  • Live Review: Florence + the Machine & The Weeknd — The Hollywood Bowl

    Mon, 08 Oct 2012 06:52:18

    Live Review: Florence + the Machine & The Weeknd — The Hollywood Bowl - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

    Florence + the Machine Photos

    • Florence + the Machine - HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27:  Singer Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California.
    • Florence + the Machine - Florence and the Machine arrive for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 13, 2011.
    • Florence + the Machine - LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13:  Singer Florence Welch of the band Florence and the Machine arrives at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

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    Last night, Florence + the Machine's astounding show at The Hollywood Bowl unfolded like a classic film.

    Florence Welch appeared behind a white wall as just a silhouette, making a classy entrance on par with history's favorite screen vixens. It was just like your favorite Alfred Hitchcock of Orson Welles moment, and extremely a propos for Hollywood.

    As she emerged through the door singing the opening verse of "Only If for a Night", the entire venue fell blissfully into her grasp—where it would remain for the rest of the evening. Welch's voice resounded flawlessly throughout the night sky with a power and poetry that none of her contemporaries can claim. As far as voices go, she's by far the best in pop and rock right now.

    That goes for performances too.

    "What the Water Gave Me", another Ceremonials gem, echoed with an orchestral hum that bordered on psychedelic. The mood shifted during "Drumming Song", which forged forward on thunderous percussion, seguing between pulse-pounding and delicate. As the a calmness swept over the audience, Welch's croon took over, reverberating well beyond the Bowl and through the rest of Los Angeles wistfully. "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" built with the heft of an entire gospel choir, just from Welch, while "Spectrum" and "Breath of Life" blasted off into another alternative altogether.

    "Shake It Out" ignited a sing-a-long that could've opened the gates of heaven, while "Dog Days Are Over" emanated a timelessness of a Beatles-size scale.

    However, Florence + the Machine wasn't the only mind-blowing set last night. Earlier in the evening, The Weeknd transported the willing audience directly into his world. Flanked by small screens displaying a naked Blonde with striking red lipstick in a sepia filter, he took the stage under the cover of darkness.

    Conducting the sounds as if he were guiding an orchestra, his hands motioned along to the piano, guitar, and bass movements conducing the trip—an operative word for his performance. The lighting setup was unlike anything out there resembling candles and spotlights as his voice illuminated and invigorated anyone within a mile radius.

    The best way to describe The Weeknd is to think of Michael Jackson fronting Radiohead. However, that doesn't quite even do justice to his unmitigated and unique brilliance. He's in a class of his own regardless of era. The scuzzy '70s style imagery of balloons, smeared makeup, and gorgeous girls stuck in the perpetual morning after of some sex- and chemical-fueled party underlies the music's utter beauty.

    The Weeknd conjures that within this dark space, and that's one reason why he's so genius. "What You Need" painted a searing picture, while "Wicked Games" made everyone want to play again and again. His impeccable delivery proved utterly inspiring during a rousing "High for This". Then, "House of Balloons" charged ahead with stomping fire. As he exited the stage smiling, it was clear that he's well on his way to kicking off a revolution when Trilogy drops on November 13.

    Ultimately, Florence + the Machine and The Weeknd both put on unforgettable and cinematic shows that beg to be relived. In this day and age when we hear so much about the synthetic nature of pop music, this is the perfect example to point to that there are artists out there pushing the boundaries of pop and making timeless art. It's not typical, but it is real and wonderful.

    Rick Florino

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    Tags: Florence + the Machine, The Weeknd, Radiohead, Michael Jackson, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles

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