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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 14, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 37
High as Hope: Florence + the Machine, St. Vincent, Lizzo conquer Key Arena
Arts & Entertainment
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High as Hope: Florence + the Machine, St. Vincent, Lizzo conquer Key Arena

by Jessica Price - SGN A&E Writer

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
HIGH AS HOPE TOUR
KEY ARENA
September 10


After a few festival appearances in the US this summer, Florence + the Machine's 19 city High as Hope Tour began in Seattle Monday evening, bringing two heavy-hitting opening acts along with her. Handpicked by Florence herself, Minneapolis rapper/singer and all-around babe Lizzo took the stage at 7pm, hot on the heels of a string of extremely catchy singles. Lizzo's body-positive message and upbeat, genre-hopping dance music are an undeniable good time, not to mention her trademark twerking.

Early arrivals and a sizeable gathering of Lizzo fans were treated to 'Worship,' 'Phone,' and 'Scuse Me.' Flanked by two dancers and a DJ, Lizzo effortlessly filled Key Arena with the full power of her vocals. New single 'Boys' was followed by 'Jerome Go Home' (with an introductory snippet of TLC's 'No Scrubs' thrown in for good measure). It was clear that Lizzo and her girls were reveling in the first night of their very first arena tour, at one point requesting the now well-populated arena to light up all their cell phones; at another, prompting the crowd to do the wave. The excitement was infectious. A shout out to Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' preceded 'Water Me' and 'Good as Hell.' Lizzo is a powerhouse, her voice slipping easily from rap to retro soul in the span of one song. She won't be opening arena shows for very long.

Next up was St. Vincent, looking slightly otherworldly in an emerald green vinyl jumpsuit and sparkling gold booties, her hair styled in a jet-black bob. She stood apart from her band, who performed in a line just behind her: one vinyl-clad beauty and two men in featureless face masks with unattractive blond blunt cut wigs obscuring their eyes. Their menacing, futuristic electro-pop was a change of direction, but the combination of stark beats and haunting vocals St. Vincent is known for held Key Arena in thrall. 'Sugarboy,' 'Los Ageless,' 'Masseduction,' 'Savior' and 'Cheerleader' from breakthrough album Strange Mercy were highlights, the drop-dead gorgeous 'New York' closed the set on a high. Frightening/dazzling isn't a bad way to push boundaries in an arena, and St. Vincent delivered.

Florence + The Machine took the stage at 9:15pm, singer Florence Welch a vision of wild, pastoral femininity in a gossamer dress of pleats and ruffles that seemed to float over a minimal bodysuit as she bounded across the stage. Beginning with 'June' and 'Hunger' from their fourth and current studio album, High as Hope, Welch, now 31, barely stood still for an hour and a half - bounding, skipping, twirling as if she were a more accessible Kate Bush. Welch has been in a reflective mood, the new album thoughtfully contemplating the aftermath of love lost and the perspective of outgrowing your wild years. Older songs 'Between Two Lungs,' 'Only If for a Night' and 'Queen of Peace' showed off the 7-piece band's percussive power and the incredible energy Welch is known for. As always, she wore no shoes, effortlessly belting at the top of her voice while sprinting from stage left to right and back again. Welch exudes an unselfconscious, liberating zeal that creates intimacy even in a venue as cavernous as Key Arena.

Introducing 'Patricia,' Welch explained that the song was inspired by Patti Smith, who told her that every time she performed it Patti's spirit would be with her. 'Now she's here with all of us,' she said. Though many were probably too young to recognize the name, it felt as though her rabid fans would be more than willing to do their homework. 'Dog Days Are Over,' '100 Years,' and 'Ship to Wreck' were followed by 'The End of Love,' 'Cosmic Love' and 'Delilah.' Closing the set with 'What Kind of Man,' Welch padded off and quickly reappeared for a thunderous encore of 'Big God' and 'Shake It Out.'

During the latter, the singer ran along the sides of the arena floor all the way to the opposite end and half way up the lower level, pausing at intervals to sing and dance with particularly enthusiastic fans. Though much of High as Hope is more polished and refined than her earlier material, Welch's true talent is in her vitality and rawness: sharing her own journey of self-discovery and recognizing that it is in fact universal.

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