Florence + the Machine at Merriweather Post Pavilion

On Monday night I dragged my husband down to see Florence + the Machine at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the first of three concerts I’ll be seeing there in June. They’ve been upgrading a lot of things there over the past several years and it’s now really starting to show. The first year was mostly backstage stuff so to the audience it didn’t seem like they had done anything. Last year the biggest thing I noticed was some of the new bathrooms. I guess they had a bunch of new food stuff last year and even more this year, but I never get food there so I don’t really know. The major new thing this year, which you could see start to take shape last year when they raised the roof on the pavilion was the addition of the new sky box seats and the new sky lawn. They look really nice, though I will never pay the stupid amount of money they want for the box seats. Interestingly anyone can go up on the sky lawn because technically they are lawn seats. I gather there is actual grass up there. I didn’t go up this time, but next time I think I’ll walk up just to check it out. It’s pretty flat though and since you’re above the stage I don’t think it would be worth sitting/standing up there for the actual show unless you got there early enough to snag a spot right along the balcony.

They have also replaced the seats inside the pavilion. No more janky, rusting metal folding chairs in the far back sections! I never understood why there weren’t real seats in those areas to start, but now everywhere has nice new plastic folding chairs. That’s good because I pretty much go for the pavilion seats at Merriweather now. In my younger years I used to love sitting out on the lawn there. It’s still not awful when you know the show isn’t going to be a sell out, but they sell way too many tickets for the lawn for super popular shows and it’s just miserable especially if you wind up surrounded by a bunch of rude, drunk people. Plus, now that they’ve added this new sky section the pillars holding that up have reduced the amount of lawn space that has a decent view down to the stage without solely relying on the screens. I can afford pavilion seats, so unless I’m going with someone who prefers we do the lawn I’m pretty much paying for a seat these days. It is kind of funny that I still much prefer the lawn seats at Wolf Trap over sitting in their pavilion. I love picnicking on the lawn there and everything just seems so much more civilized.

Anyway, now on to the show. This was the fifth time I’ve seen Florence + the Machine live. I never seem to care for whoever she picks as her opening act. The first time I saw her she was opening for U2, so that doesn’t count. The second and third times I saw her I had never heard of the opening acts, came and saw them, didn’t care for them, never listened to them again, and could not tell you at this point who they were. I saw her at the Anthem back in October and knew I didn’t care that much for Beth Ditto so skipped the opening act. Same for this concert which had Blood Orange as the opening act. My husband wanted to leave a little bit earlier than I suggested so we still got there in time to hear the final two song of Blood Orange’s set, which just confirmed my decision to not to see them.

I’ve basically seen Florence + the Machine tour once for every album. This is the first time I’ve seen them twice on the same tour, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of seeing anything new. I know a lot of times bands have a pretty standard set list and stage banter routine that they don’t deviate from much. There was definitely a lot of overlap and intros to songs had the same general gist, but it didn’t feel like a retread at all. I looked up the two set lists to compare. She played 16 songs at the Anthem and 17 at Merriweather with 12 of them overlapping. So about a 1/3 of the songs were new, which is a pretty good percentage. She also played another 1/3 in a different order than she did at the Anthem, so it very much felt like a new set other than the very beginning and end.

She is just such an awesome performer too. She has so much energy and is just running and dancing around the stage all the time. I would be completely out of breath and unable to sing. Not that anyone wants to hear me sing. She of course went out into the crowd all the way up into the lawn. She gets the crowd involved in the show almost better than anyone else I’ve seen. She is also just brings such an energy of peace and love and positivity while also encouraging people to, I want to say fight to lift up the oppressed but fight feels like the wrong word. Anyway, she basically said at this show basically said I know you’ve already spent a lot of money on concert tickets, but if you were thinking about maybe buying a t-shirt or something tonight donate that money to the ACLU instead because I don’t need it. I always leave a Florence show feeling so much more uplifted no matter what is going on in my life or the world. She has taken to ending her shows with “Shake It Off”, which really is the best closing song she could pick and she should never change that. As someone with anxiety who holds onto a lot of stuff I should just let go of I feel like I should listen to that song every day and make it my mantra.

It was another excellent show by Florence + the Machine and is why I will continue to see her every time I get a chance. Even Paul gave it high praise. Whenever we leave shows I drag him to I always ask if he enjoyed it. For the most part unless he really didn’t like it I get a response of it was fine or it was okay. My husband does not express emotion very much. When I asked him how he liked this show he said it was good, which on the Paul scale is pretty much like giving it 5 stars, so she even won over the curmudgeon.

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