MTV Unplugged

Florence + the Machine

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MTV Unplugged Review

by James Christopher Monger

2011's Ceremonials, which found Florence + the Machine expanding on their already expansive sound, helped to further propel the ghostly Brit into the spotlight, and on MTV Unplugged, she's come full circle, allowing fans a peek into the bombast while providing the aging, acoustic show with a little defibrillation. It's all well and good, with a solid set list that includes favorites from both records along with a pair of oddball covers, but Florence Welch's stadium-sized persona fights for air within the gothic confines of New York City's historic Angel Orensanz synagogue. You can really feel her holding back on reliable show stoppers like "Dog Days are Over," "Cosmic Love," and "Shake It Out," which is kind of the point for an unplugged session, but Welch's greatest strength is her ability to go from heartbreak to goose bumps without a bead of perspiration, and this well-played, technically sound set suffers a bit for its absence. That said, midtempo tracks like "Only If for a Night," "No Light, No Light," and "What the Water Gave Me," the latter of which finds Welch in full control of the room by the song's second half, are soulful, spooky, and bold, allowing room for both Welch and her machine to strut their stuff without sounding like a murder of caged crows.

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