Florence and the Machine Forces Haters to Take a Seat With SNL Return


Florence and the Machine is maybe the only band that can accept “soundtrackcore” as a compliment without a hint of backhand to go with it. Think of “Dog Days Are Over” or “You’ve Got the Love” and a handful of pivotal, empowering sequences from popular movies, commercials, or television montages pop up — even if the songs didn’t actually serve as the backing track for them. If it’s a euphoric moment, one that requires a dance break in public or a driving-with-the-windows-down kind of scene, it’s easy to assume the striking, strong voice of Welch, tight vibrato and indestructible belt and all, will go with it.

It’s been a proper minute since the flame-haired siren stepped up to the mic, with the forthcoming How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful dropping four years after the Machine’s last album, 2011’s Ceremonials. With a full festival schedule ahead of her this summer and new feel-good anthems for the peddling, Saturday Night Live was more or less the mainstream debut of Welch’s latest material — and it’s good to see that a little time off spent in the studio didn’t lead to a dramatic shift, but a deeper dive into the stockpile of positive vibes that’s shaped her way to success.


To start, Flo — seated at the mic instead of standing, as she recently broke her foot — wasted no time in delivering “Ship to Wreck” in the manner to which we’re accustomed: soaring high notes that steer clear of strident territory; driving, danceable rhythm; a chorus that warms you from the inside out when you sing along with it; etc. Place your bets now that “Ship to Wreck” will wind up licensed for some Memorial Day rom-com or major season finale.


As for the haunting smolder of “What Kind of Man,” Welch went from ethereal and heady to direct and probing in the matter of a downbeat, taking the offender to task lyric by lyric as she recounted the disappointments racked up during the dissolution of a once loving relationship. Her backup singers seemed to swathe her in the tragic tone of a Greek chorus over the build and burst of the song. Some notes hit the ear a little too harsh, but if anything, the imperfections just contributed to the intensity of the performance and the controlled chaos of Welch at the mic. In short: raw, rocking, and rad.

Twitter more or less agreed that Welch’s return had been a welcome one, though it’d be nice if she could be hailed as an artist of her own making, instead of brushed off as a Jefferson Airplane descendant or Stevie Nicks imitator. Behold, Florence Welch according to the internet peanut gallery…

Twitter reacts to Florence and the Machine’s SNL performance
First things first: Florence Henderson is the mom on The Brady Bunch, you guys. Florence Henderson is not the Florence with the Machine.

Doooohohoho I saw what you did there.

Points for getting to the point?

Plenty of viewers saw the Grace Slick/Jefferson Airplane similarities…

…Or they thought she was biting Jenny Lewis’s Voyager status.

Or Stevie.

Or Bonnie Raitt.

Or everyone. (That’d be some baby, though.)

See also:
Mumford and Sons Plug In (and Freak Everyone Out) on
Saturday Night Live‘s Forty Essential Music Moments, Ranked
Carly Rae Jepsen Really Really Really Really (etc.) Brought the Eighties Back to SNL