A Love Letter To Live Music


Florence + the Machine // Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, 2015 – Anne Chafer 

“Stendhal syndrome, or Florence syndrome, is a psychosomatic condition involving rapid heartbeat and confusion, allegedly occurring when individuals become exposed to phenomena of great beauty.” — Wikipedia

I first experienced this at sixteen. The curtain at the back of the stage glittered silver with sequin scales, a fish at sea that kept moving, iridescent under the lights. Blue flooded my vision. A figure in a translucent dress tiptoed towards the microphone, to the rhythm of harp glissandos. There must have been at  least fifteen different musicians onstage, but I couldn’t see them. My heartbeat was racing. The sound was there, wrapping me in a vision, but my eyes were only on her. Her in the dress, a bird embroidered on her chest; her with the burning hair and the soft smile that held the crowd somewhere near her heart.

Florence Welch pronounced the words of her first song on the setlist just in time for the first tears in my eyes to appear. Gold and blue clashed in an aurora glow. The backlight was as subdued as her body language, the lack of action showing that this was just starting. That she was holding back. “The world’s a beast of a burden, / you’ve been holding on a long time,” Florence said. Let it out. I did. For the following two hours, I didn’t stop crying. I lived in the pain of loving too much.


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