Earlier, backed by low lights, lead singer Welch entered the stage in profile dressed like a Wild West bride in a stunning off-white gown that allowed her to strut like Jessica Rabbit. Behind her, two more demure but dexterous back-up singers tucked into little black dresses cooed along with her yelps and yawls. The overall effect of the staging struck chords both subdued and surreal as Welch bent her powerhouse voice into "Only If For A Night."
Slide show: Florence + the Machine at Red Rocks
Earlier this month, though, that voice was straining, not soaring. After Welch sustained a vocal cord injury two weeks ago, she canceled a handful of dates to allow it a week of rest. "For a second there in Brighton it looked like I might not be touring at all," Welch admitted to the crowd. "To be here and singing for you is fantastic."
Both Florence and the Machine and their predecessor onstage, the Walkmen, reveled in the sound potential provided by the venue and its surroundings. Dressed dapper in coordinated suits, the New York-bred indie band played a triumphant opening set comprised largely of its fastest, least forgettable songs. Material from Heaven, which dropped less than two months ago, took on an expansive early life as lead singer Hamilton Leithauser growled earnestly across the band's second ever Red Rocks show. (To read more about their first - and their intimate new record - check out our interview with organist Peter Bauer.)
The Walkmen's earnest, ambitious set flowed expertly into Florence and the Machine's high drama. With the grace of a ballet dancer, Welch contorted her deep, brassy delivery and her lithe figure across the most triumphant hits from both Lungs and Ceremonials. Through "What The Water Gave Me," she stretched her arms like a wind-up ballerina toward the stars before building the set's tension and her wingspan through "Cosmic Love" and letting it boil over and spill out in "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)."