-by Melissa Greenberg
I have been through a lot while I’ve been here in Australia as an exchange student: within my first month here, my grandfather passed away. I was here in Australia while my family was oceans away, left alone to mourn and grieve the death of my first grandparent. I found myself slipping into a slow depression, which I was left to deal with, again, alone because my support system is across the globe. Then this month, just as things were starting to look up, I was finishing assignments for school, and I felt like I was taking control of my life again, my grandmother passed away. For the second time in a three-month period, I found myself on the phone with my parents, listening to them tell me that someone I loved was gone forever. I was left alone, again, to think about how to cope with her loss on my own.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person, but I would say I am spiritual. I believe that somewhere, somehow, my grandparents are back together now and watching over me as I navigate through these last few weeks abroad. I like to think that they send me signs when I’m having a bad week and that they’re sending good karma my way.
One of these signs and some of that good karma came to me this week in the form of Florence and the Machine. I found out about my grandmother’s passing on night of Thursday the 5th. The spent the next day crying in bed and watching videos of her, feeling sad and sorry for myself. Around 2 pm, however, my editor at Colosoul asked me if I was free to cover the Florence concert––something I had volunteered to do months ago and honestly forgotten about, thinking a more senior, experienced writer would get the opportunity. But here was my chance: I’ve known about Florence since the ‘Cosmic Love’ era and liked the music a lot but have never listened to more than the singles on the radio. I had volunteered months ago thinking it would be cool to see an artist I was familiar with… Little did I know how perfect it would end up working out.
This show could not have come at a better time for me. Florence and her “machine” were absolutely magical and reinvigorated me in a way I never could have imagined. This woman… nay, goddess, had all of Perth Arena wrapped around her finger as she pranced and waltzed barefoot around the hall and the stage. With her signature red hair flying behind her and the satin of her blue and white 1970s-esque jumpsuit shining like the “big, blue, beautiful” oceans and skies she croons about, Florence Welch had me feeling like I was witnessing something truly extraordinary and other-worldly.
For two (far too short, if you ask me) hours, I was whisked away from the sadness I’ve become overwhelmed with recently and was transported to some ethereal state, where Florence preached and motivated life and energy back into my soul. As she sings in her song ‘Third Eye’, I was reminded that I “don’t have to be a ghost here amongst the living” and that I “deserve to be loved” and that I deserve what I’m given. I jumped and fist-pumped with the 10,000 other Florence disciples to her hits like ‘Shake It Off’, ‘Ship to Wreck’, ‘Drumming Song’, and obviously, ‘Dog Days Are Over’. Song after song, I watched as the entire arena hopped and bounced along, anxiously awaiting her next angelic note.
I distinctly remember one moment when she hopped off the stage and over to the gate separating the stage from the audience. She stood up on the gate and took an audience member’s head in her hands and kissed it, like she was the Pope blessing a newborn. This may sound strange (and it was… a little) but she owns it: I would very willingly join her church and let her lead me to whatever enlightenment she’s found, because it seems like she has gotten it figured out.
The highlight of my night came when I heard the harp ring out the first few notes of ‘Cosmic Love’. Welch and Co. played a stripped-down version of the song: just harp, some keyboard, guitar and her haunting vocals. The lyrics, while they may not necessarily represent the grief I feel over the loss of my grandparents, certainly represent the loneliness I feel and how I’ve been feeling “left in the dark.” But instead of feeling sad and alone, I felt my grandparents there with me, giving me one of those signs that everything is going to be okay. I stood there with thousands of other people and reminded myself that I may feel like I’m alone and “the stars, the moon, they have all been blown out” but I’m never truly alone.
After the show, I left Perth Arena with the same glow on my face as the thousands of others who had just basked in her sunlight for the evening. I felt refreshed, I felt rejuvenated, I felt happiness. I don’t know how she did it, but Florence got me to believe again. I’d like to think that somehow, my grandparents were there in the arena with me dancing and taking in the joy and love she spread. I’d like to believe that they led to me to that show because they knew I needed it.
Fate, signs, karma, or not, I am a new member of the Church of Florence and the Machine, and I’m sure many of the other witnesses to the show would say the same. Looking for salvation? Just look for Florence.
Photo Credit: Matthew Picken