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Snow Patrol & Florence + The Machine
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Craig Fitzpatrick, 28 Aug 2012
Ear-to-ear smiles, gushing praise and near-constant arm flailing and jumping jacks. And that’s just the headliners. Crowd reaction might be the standard barometer for a show’s success but, on this drizzly July eve, the joy on the faces of the performers says it all. Beaming back at the gathered, soggy thousands, Florence and Mr. Lightbody (neither strangers to a monster show), both seem moved by the scale of the event, running out of superlatives before they run out of songs.
The third of this week’s Phoenix Park gigs sees Bressie and The Temper Trap take to the stage before the sun sinks down in the sky but a lot of people seem to be here to see one girl play with her Machine. Finally, Florence glides onstage in a silk number that ‘70s Bowie would have been proud of, and announces her arrival by making full use of those billow-sized lungs. We’d wager the flame-haired singer can be heard in Cabra.
Tonight’s performance draws heavily on her second album Ceremonials, with sprinklings of the debut tunes that made her name. ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ and ‘Dog Days Are Over’ have lost none of their power, whilst newie ‘Never Let Me Go’ has an altogether lighter touch, a meditative delicateness that lets the crowd catch its breath. All the while, Florence spins around in the spotlight and shakes wildly. By the end, having joined her thunderous rhythm section, she quite literally bangs the drums.
A theme is emerging in these Phoenix Park shows. Strong of voice, she veers wildly off-key on a few occasions – but it’s endearing rather than detrimental – Florence is lost in the moment. And the crowd seem smitten, with one sign asking if she wants to ‘Shake It Up’ post-show. She might have taken the offer up, but instead makes her exit after an hour, the one disappointment of her set, for a crowd eager for more.
Snow Patrol are waiting in the wings. ‘Hearts Open’ finds Gary duetting with Nathan Connolly, setting the arm-around-your mate tone for the evening, whilst ‘Take Back The City’ is a rollicking statement of intent. They seem to have successfully appropriated Coldplay’s stadium-gigs-done-in-a-humble-manner style and, while the ‘mobiles aloft’ thing can sometimes be cloying, they seem to make it work. By the time ‘Run’ arrives (still their finest work), Gary Lightbody is having a moment. “It just keeps getting better and better in Ireland,” he declares, dedicating it to the entire country, “North, South, East and West”. A girl nearby whimpers, “but we’re from the Midlands!”