"This is THE ceremony of the Ceremonials tour," Florence Welch said onstage Friday evening on the opening day of Austin City Limits in Zilker Park (see live pics!). It's where Florence + the Machine capped their exhaustive tour in support of their second album, and began a year-long hiatus before returning to the studio.
It was a proper goodbye: The scene looked like a director's cut of Lord of the Rings or Willow, with Flo a whimsical forest queen, decked out in a long green gown, her fire-red hair tied in french braids. And that voice--that voice! In the field, some 50,000 concertgoers sang along, with hundreds and hundreds of personalized flags flapping in the autumn breeze. The throng was Flo's personal army answering her battle cry--marshall drumming, harp plucking and a string section lifting her wails to the top of Mordor and back. Flo snatched the tails of her gown and twirled and flapped, a toothy grin across her face, and jumped in the pit to embrace her devout.
She looked truly thrilled (relieved?) to be wrapping up the Ceremonials tour in style. It was certainly the most interactive and heartwarming set of the day; Flo suggested fans to "hug each other, shake hands and make out!!!"
"Express yourself on this next song," said Flo (who's pretty darn expressive herself) of another Ceremonials jam, 'Spectrum.' She motioned to a member of her band: "The lovely Isabella [Summers, pianist] will give a kiss to the winner."
Afterwards, Flo pointed to a dude in jeans and a blue scarf, and lifted him over the barricade and onstage. "Now give her a snog!!!"
Flo, clearly caught up in the moment, added: "You know, it's not a festival til you stroke glitter from someone's face and put it on your own face!!!" Unfortunately, no glitter could be found in my general vicinity.
"Wanna sing something with me?" Flo asked later. The band then charged into their best known hit, "Dog Days Are Over." Before the final chorus, Flo demonstrated that she'd like the crowd to jump up and down, non-stop, til the song was over.
The sun was setting, flags waving and Flo, back arched and her hand waving her gown, was wailing about a bright, optimistic future: "Happiness, is like a train on a track / Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back." It was an awesome sight, a communal moment, and just then a fan threw a golden crown fitted with flowers onstage. Flo rested it on her head and beamed, "It's definitely a festival now!!!"