It's new Cali sister trio Haim who show up first, managing to book a spot on this tour after triggering some big-ol' buzz earlier in the year. They spend their set transmitting anything and everything, like a less-highbrow Arcade Fire encountering Eternal on a trip back to the '90s... meets The Darkness. We want in if this is the future of girlbands.
[Left: Haim / Right: The Maccabees]
Tonight's last-minute surprise guests The Maccabees, who told DS only last month of their wish to headline arenas, get a taste right here in front of long-time mate Florence's followers. And their sweeping, stirring indie has no problems fitting on this big of a stage.
Singer Orlando, now displaying a slicked-back hairdo, appears totally confident up there with his bandmates. Although Flo's fans stand stock-still for the non-singles, these boys would cause all kinds of boom-shake-the-rooming if it were their admirers down the front.
Orlando introduces a "very special guest" and on walks Florence herself. She may have teamed with the Stones here last week but there's a real warmth about her joining in on 'Toothpaste Kisses', what with her bear-hugging each Maccabee before taking the mic; it's too cute to handle.
20 minutes later and the stage has morphed into a high-end Take Me Out set; it's time for Florence + the Machine. Only tonight, the Machine consist of about a dozen besides a few backing singers. In she comes, parading the dress of a spindlier, glittery Grotbags.
But even with the big lights and the marching band and Flo pretty much letting her booming bellowing fly across the arena, there's a subtlety about the brilliance of what's going down. It's all too thoughtful to be in-your-face.
'Cosmic Love' gets an exquisite drawn-out intro by means of dashing violins and double bass, and it's in 'You Got the Love' where her thewy vocals really glimmer. Not one of her songs are done as straight-up few-minute shorts; they're all handed the Hollywood treatment and feel like utter moments… it's skilful.
Florence is at her best when she drops the daydreaming persona and simply rushes the stage from end to end like an overly-charged Powerpuff Girl. "I don't think I'm ever gonna get over how big this place is," she stops to snivel, before waving hello to her mum and apologising for all those songs about "death". It comes off more melodramatic than an X Factor sob story, but sweet and funny all the same.
The Machine desert Florence for 'Leave My Body', and it's just she and us for a touching performance of a number where less is most certainly more. Its want for one of those out-of-body experiences and just, you know, be happy is felt extra when she's so darn fixating to watch; she's so believable you almost wonder if she's acting.
An encore started by 'Sweet Nothing' minus Calvin's bleep-blops is the best of the night; it's all heart and no bulls**t so stripped away. Florence runs off to where she came from, seemingly in a better place than ever. We'll stand here waiting for what's coming next...
Watch the video for Florence and Calvin Harris's 'Sweet Nothing' below: