Celebrating love and positivity with Florence + The Machine

Barefoot and beloved at Toronto performance

Who: Florence + The Machine
Where: Budweiser Stage, Toronto
When: Sat., Sept. 3
Vibe: A magical night of art and witchcraft
Highlight: Florence’s genuine connection with the crowd
Next: U.S. Tour

Stalactite-shaped chandeliers rise over the stage to reveal Florence Welch — barefoot in a flowing, black-and-white, lace dress — on a personal dance floor. Behind her is a bench draped in white cloth with more stalactite chandeliers hovering above it, which she refers to as the altar. She dances freely with abandon, yet hits all her cues, punching at the notes.

Early on in the set, during her performance of Dog Days Are Over, Florence entreats the crowd to follow the song’s ritual: “Put your phones away, you don’t need to share this moment or post it on your phones. Just be here with the people you love.”

Audience members are dressed in their boho-witchy best, dripping in glitter and adorned with flower crowns. Throughout the set, she embraces individuals in the crowd, singing face to face with a lucky few during Dream Girl Evil, blessing a number of fans with a palm to their forehead for What Kind Of Man and hugging people and touching hands as she passes by. Fans offer her fistfuls of cut flowers as she dances by, and she brings a flower crown back to the stage to leave on the altar.

A black-screen curtain drops to box in the dance floor and creates a silhouette of Florence as she dances and sings to Big God. Her shadow grows and flickers as if she is addressing herself while she sings.

Between performances, she admits that she wasn’t sure if she’d ever feel like touring or playing music again — Morning Elvis is a true story written about that time — it’s a topic she wrestles with often on her latest album, Dance Fever. Fortunately, she found that desire to perform again.

Florence conducts the crowd like it’s a choir, waving her hand in time with the music to direct the thousands of voices. She’s ever enthusiastic, encouraging the audience to dance with everything we’ve got: “Toronto, you’ve only got one job and that’s to dance yourselves to death!”

In her encore performance, she prefaces Never Let Me Go with a short speech about her reluctance to play the song due to a fear of feeling too emotional. Asides from the previous night’s opening tour date in Montreal, it’s the first time the band’s played the song in more than a decade.

A night with Florence + The Machine is a truly spiritual experience. We’re all here to enjoy and participate in art. Or maybe we’re all here to offer our spirits — Florence closes the night with Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) and announces, “We’re all part of a beautiful little cult … And just one more thing: we need a few human sacrifices …”