Fans who bought tickets to Florence + the Machine on Monday, May 20, at Red Rocks probably imagined basking in her witchy, indie rock on a warm spring night. Instead, they drove turtle-paced through the mountains as snow slowly cascaded. Ethereal, dreamy, the white flurries settled in against the vibrant rocks.
The fans trudged up the steps into the amphitheater, where they huddled under ponchos and blankets to watch the opener, the French pop-art band Christine and the Queens.
Lead singer Héloïse Adelaide Letissier, known to her fans as Chris, danced around the stage with her Queens, and put just as much poetic grace into her choreography as she did in her lyrics. At this point, the snow was no longer just a side note to the night, but a full-on musical accompaniment to the stage.
Still, the crowd stayed, ready for Welch. First came the guarding of the instruments with tarps; then out walked the eight-piece band, dressed in suits and a few fur coats. Welch glided across the stage to the tune of "June," a song from the band's most recent album, High as Hope. The lyrics seemed highly ironic as the snow fell: "In those heavy days in June/When love became an act of defiance/Hold onto each other/Hold onto each other."
She was dressed for the song in a nightgown and flimsy ballet shoes. It was 30-some degrees — a record low for this time of year. Dear God, someone in her crew needs to make her wear a coat. That thought circled around my head during every song, distracting me until finally, in the latter half of the night, she walked out in a long fur coat.
During the song "Hunger," I wondered if Welch was dancing and spinning around the stage for warmth or for fun. She answered this question when she called out to the crowd, "I think everyone needs to move around as much as possible. It’s really important to stay warm."
She also warned us that we might be kicked out early for our own safety, which drew a heavy sigh from her shivering fans, who woke up when the song "Between Two Lungs," from the band's first album, blared through the speakers.
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Wading through puddles on the stage, she told the crowd that her fans have helped her continue doing this tour, even as she has struggled with anxiety. "I’m sure we all feel anxious, and women of America, you can do better," she said and suggested that instead of buying merch, we consider donating to the ACLU. This was a great segue into speaking about one of her female idols, Patti Smith, before she played "Patricia."
During her popular song "Dog Days Are Over," Welch requested that we put our phones away for the night. A laugh erupted from the crowd as she said, "Winter has come," and dedicated the next song to another badass woman, Arya Stark. Then the haunting chords of her Game of Thrones song, "Jenny of Oldstones," drifted out from under the snow-laden stage.
The majority of the set comprised magical, upbeat songs, but this moment was like ice; the audience members could only sway back and forth with one another in an effort to not disrupt Florence's sovereign vocals.
The band, which played just over an hour, cut the set short with an encore of "Shake It Out." As we left, we knew that everyone, including Welch, shared a common experience gutting it out for a mystical experience on a frigid Monday night.