MANCHESTER, TENN — Florence Welch smiled many, many times during her highly anticipated set at Bonnaroo. It often indicated thanks, and obviously she had a good time at that. But she also had a secret she was eager to reveal.
The Florence + The Machine singer alluded to her new album mid-set, and then launched into her new song. The refrain sounds like it may be called “feeling on the earth.” It starts out with her outer-space, new age coo, then bumps into a minor-keyed rock swing beat, the synths humming into a chant-sing. The chorus then goes into “feeling…” and “singing on the Earth” repeated several times each, and banging into a full-soul verse and a breakdown and a dreamy, Christine McVie-like backing vocals and a third part that devolves into “ahs” and “dum-dums.” A harpsicord synth pokes out until a crash finish.
[Edit: A Florence spokesperson has confirmed that the track was “Strangeness and Charm” and that it will be on the new album.]
The track clocks in around 5:40, and the crowd reacted accordingly, letting themselves be heard in abundance as Welch swung her small arms around her head.
That was the beauty of Florence’s set: she fits herself beautifully in her stylized stage setup, flanked by harp and flowered columns, a floral wallpaper backing her black (Gucci?) dress and her limbs (and lungs) expressing as much as her serene face. She stayed put inside a two-by-two space, but used it well, swirling and giving her band its due in the instrumental portions.
She knocked out the biggest tracks from her sole album “Lungs,” including “Cosmic Love,” opener “Howl,” highlight “Drumming Song” and natural closer “Dog Days Are Over.”
Only a couple hours before, Grace Potter was knocking out the first hundred rows of ‘Roo revelers on the dirty ground. Welch’s voice — though with similar power — was more nuanced. Killing it with kisses, as it were. From the photo pit, I could see her tailored hands shaking around the microphone. Every note counted, which is perhaps why this performance marked a definite fan favorite of the weekend.
This stop in Tennessee marks the start of Florence + The Machine’s North American tour, several dates included opening for U2.
No word yet on the expected drop-date on the new album.