Live Report: Florence & The Machine – Barclaycard Presents British Summertime, London

Matriarchal magic as the Queen of South London addresses her subjects...

“It’s like a festival for people who don’t really like festivals,” ventures my date at one point during the blazing hot day we were blessed with at Barclaycard Presents British Summertime.

You have to write it in full like that, by the way, or somebody gets into trouble. And the corporatism at Barclaycard Presents British Summertime was laid on pretty thick – one whole zone, the ‘sensorium’, was only open to Barclaycard holders. What’s a ‘sensorium’? Perhaps I’ll never know.

Anyway, yeah, this pretty much is a festival for people who don’t like festivals. To be fair it is outdoors, and there’s more than one stage, but the punters are overwhelmingly, let’s call them ’Clapham types’. I daresay Uber did a roaring trade that night. Boomtown it ain’t. Whatever.

The lower-down the bill acts were really, really good – special shout out to Connie Constance’s tight fusion of tongue-in-cheek urban grooves and Weller-esque state of the nation song craft. Mathilda Homer, too, is an absolute scream, funny and self-deprecating (‘I’m off to my parent’s barbecue after this’) yet possessed of an uncanny honey-sweet jazz sensibility.

On to the main event. Florence Welch looked the absolute fricking bomb in a pale floaty dress, and between absolutely belting renditions of her newish material and evergreen radio-friendly bangers like 'Dog Days Are Over' took time to emotionally take stock of her journey, from toilet venue try-hard to thoroughly convincing Saturday night headliner. Like a modern day Boudicca, all regal fringe and razor sharp jawbone. A goddess.

Oooh, and as you may have clocked from earlier, Barclaycard Presents British Summertime had a very female-leaning lineup, with fully 70% of acts women. “Welcome to the matriarchy,” Florence Welch crowed as sunset turned London briefly into a ginormous Turner painting. “It’s fun.”

Florence’s place is now indelibly secured in the pantheon, and, it must be said, partly thanks to Barclaycard. Credit where credit’s due.

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Words: Andy Hill
Photo Credit: Tom Beard

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