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Florence And The Machine, IO Echo @ Troubadour 10/30/09

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Local gothic dance rockers Io Echo look unfazed as they performed before a sold out crowd at the Troubadour. They were ready for their moment in the spotlight and looked the part. IO Echo vocalist, IO (a.k.a. Joanna Gikas) looked stunning in a white dress with black crosses circling her waist and long flowing hair. Her band manifested themselves in various states of black punk attire which looked terrific through the clouds of white smoke that swirled around the stage. If they had sounded half as good as they looked, we would have been in business. But like a lot of bands, they were mostly packaging and very little substance.

As opening bands go though, they couldn't be faulted. IO Echo got the crowd all geared up to rock out with catchy choruses, crunchy guitar heroics, and giant drums, but there was no chance that they were going to upstage anyone. For example their song, "Doorway" (which you may or may not recognize from a Palm Pre commercial) has a good groove and you catch yourself singing along the refrain "I gotta get out of here. I gotta get of here," but it's nothing that digs into your heart makes you want to rush out and buy the record. That being said, they do one of the best Beatles covers I've ever heard, which is damned difficult. Their cover of the Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is superb. But when you're best song in the set is a cover...it does not bode well.

The energy in the Troubadour rippled through the crowd as soon as the lights dimmed for Florence and The Machine's set. At ripe old age of twenty-three years of age lead singer, Florence Welch could not have dreamed of a more welcoming crowd. The Troubadour itself had been transformed to fit her aesthetic with a gold sparkly drum kit, twinkly lights draped on the mic stands, a full sized harp, and a huge swath of green baroque fabric hanging at the back. Her band members, who were also apparently just part of the backdrop, were all dressed in black and silently picked up their instruments for Florence's grand entrance. After a long wait the flame haired chanteuse appeared in a black and gold gypsy inspired robe, black hot pants, and heels, and the place went berserk.

It turns out that they had a very good reason. Welch didn't let anyone down. Opening the set with "Lungs" of her debut album of the same title, her stunning voice filled every nook and cranny of the Troubadour. It's just a shame that her band simply could not do it justice. To be fair it wasn't really their fault. The giant orchestral numbers on the album, just couldn't be recreated with five people. So what ended up happening is it sounded like the music was being played through really earbuds you could buy at Walgreens and Florence was coming out Bose headphones. Not that it mattered in the slightest to the crowd, they were there just to see Florence after all. The Machine was really an afterthought.

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Welch clearly had taken heavy notes from Stevie Nicks in her stage presence classes. Giant hand gestures and violent hair tosses were used often to emphasize points. Not that Nicks is not a bad singer to model oneself after. Like clockwork it seems like every couple years a new mystically inspired chanteuse to show up on the scene and write exciting, messed up love songs. Regina Spektor better watch her back (especially after her latest watered down attempt) and Tori Amos should pay attention, Florence and The Machine were really something special to see.

-Setlist-
Lungs
Coffins
Kiss With a Fist
Hurting
Hospital Beds (Cold War Kids cover)
Howl
Drumming
Hurricane
Dog Days
Cosmic Love
If I Had a Heart
Blinding

-Encore-
You've Got the Love
Rabbit Heart