MANSFIELD — Four songs into her show at the Comcast Center Friday night Florence Welch, frontwoman for Florence + the Machine, had a request for the crowd: Raise each other up.
Welch meant this literally, asking friends to hoist one another for the duration of the propulsive “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” Plenty of folks in the roughly three-quarters-capacity crowd granted her request, doing physically what Welch and her nine-piece, well-oiled Machine would continue to do for the duration of the 95-minute performance: uplift.
The flame-tressed British singer-songwriter called her 2009 debut “Lungs” and she continues to demonstrate her own, with equal ability to captivate with vulnerable fragility and steamrolling power.
Hurling and flinging herself about one moment and standing spookily stock still the next, graciously accepting flowers, garlands, and signs from the enthusiastic general admission pit in front of the stage, Welch was also a dynamic and charming stage presence. She and her band — including two drummers, three indispensible backing vocalists, and a harpist — powered through a set that moved from strength to strength, from whispered solemnity to grandiose bombast — as she flitted across the stage working out tunes from “Lungs” and 2011’s “Ceremonials.”
The windswept “Only If for a Night” set the template as Welch ecstatically scraped the sky with her voice, the drummers seemingly at cacophonic cross purposes at first but falling into an irresistible groove.
While many of the songs including hits like “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days Are Over” shared similar contours — delicate openings expanding into a full band roar punctuated by thunderous drums and celestial choir vocals before resolving back in the quietude — the formula was so winning it was easy to take the ride.
Especially stunning was “Breath of Life,” a left turn into a funky, primal, sexy bottom end that exploited the fire and ice duality of Welch’s voice, a quality shared by predecessors such as Annie Lennox and Sinead O’Connor.
Welch noted that the Comcast Center show was the first of the band’s US tour. They’re off to a strong start.Sarah Rodman can be reached at
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