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April 8, 2012 / jhsaeger

Florence + the Machine Go Unplugged

    In Florence + the Machine’s first physical live record and DVD release, redheaded songstress Florence Welch presented 13 stripped down tracks from her young discography for MTV’s Unplugged program, as well as a terrific duet with Josh Homme and a demo of a new track, “Landscapes.” The selection and reinterpretation of the tracks through the acoustic format allowed for both new insight into her music and an appreciation for certain aspects of her sound that she had not previously revealed to her fan base.
   To hear Welch unveil her music without her trademark heavy layers of percussion was interesting. Unplugged essentially took the Machine away from Florence. While her band mates were present on the record, they were not as impactful as they normally are. As could be expected, some songs lent themselves better to the format than others.
    The importance of their impact was felt from the beginning of the show, where “Only If For A Night” and “Drumming Sound” felt a bit empty. Two tracks that held up well were “Dog Days Are Over” and “What the Water Gave Me.” Neither song was a surprise, however, as Welch has likely played “Dog Days” enough times that she could make it stand out in a sheet metal factory and a stripped down demo of “What the Water Gave Me” was released for the deluxe edition of her album Ceremonials. Another song which held up well was “Never Let Me Go,” where the sheer power of Welch’s voice took over the New York church were the concert was recorded.
   The brightest moment of Unplugged was Welch’s duet with the mustachioed Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.” The surprising inclusion of Homme to the program allowed for a terrific look into two sides of each artist that we do not normally get a chance to see.
    The new edition to Welch’s discography, the demo for “Landscapes,” expanded on the sound probed in Ceremonials and possibly provided a glimpse into her next record. The final two tracks of Unplugged were well-done acoustic takes of “Heartlines” and “Shake It Out” that blended in with the format of the album.
     Florence + the Machine’s Unplugged is available as a digital download, compact disc, and deluxe edition package with a DVD containing selections from the concert. Welch is currently in the midst of a lengthy tour that includes stops throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. 


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