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I crash-landed into real life, and my album is the result; Florence + The Machine are at the Metro Radio Arena on Tuesday next week.

FOR Florence Welch, the success of her first two Florence + the Machine albums, Lungs and Ceremonials, meant five years of back-toback recording, promoting and touring. Lungs ran straight into the making, promoting and touring of the Grammy-nominated Ceremonials, an album written while on the road and recorded straight after coming off tour. The shows were getting bigger, the hair redder, the success wider and wilder.

A pop star at 21, with two international hit albums behind her, Florence, who is at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, with her band on Tuesday, discovered that in giving seven years to her music, some elements of real life had been left by the wayside.

Coming back from tour and moving out of her mother's Camberwell home, Florence re-engaged with normal life: going out, falling in and out of love and simply trying to learn how to look after herself outside of the hermetic bubble of life of the road.

"It was sort of a crash landing," she freely admits. "I guess although I've always dealt in fantasy and metaphor, when I came to writing, that meant the songs this time were dealing much more in reality.

"Ceremonials was so fixated on death and water, and the idea of escape or transcendence through death, but the new album became about trying to learn how live, and how to love in the world rather than trying to escape from it.

"Which is frightening, because I'm not hiding behind anything but it felt like something I had to do."

And so the new Florence, and her songs, started to swim into focus.

The result was How Big How Blue How Beautiful, a collection of songs, written and recorded over the course of 2014. Produced by Markus Dravs (Bjork, Arcade Fire, Coldplay) with contributions from Paul Epworth, Kid Harpoon and John Hill, the third album by Florence + The Machine is live-sounding, tune-rich, unhinged in all the right places and powerful in all the best ways. In voice and, ultimately, outlook Florence has perhaps never sounded better.

"Markus has done a few Arcade Fire albums," Florence says. "And he's done Bjork's Homogenic, which is a huge record for me. And I felt he had that balance of organic and electronic capabilities, managing those two worlds. And, you know, he's good with big sounds. And I like big sounds.

"He's good with trumpets, and I knew I wanted a brass section on this record," she adds of a group of musicians who were arranged by Will Gregory of Goldfrapp.

"And with Markus, I wanted to make something that was big but that had a gentleness to it. That had a warmth, that was rooted. I think that's why we went back more to the live instruments. Something that was band-led, almost.

"How Big How Blue How Beautiful was the first song I wrote for this record, literally as I just came off tour.

"Then I went off and had this incredibly chaotic year, and that all went into the record. But in the end, the feeling of How Big How Blue is what I came back to.

"The trumpets at the end of that song - that's what love feels like to me. An endless brass section that goes off into space. And it takes you with it. You're so up there. And that's what music feels like to me. You want it just to pour out endlessly, and it's the most amazing feeling."

Florence + The Machine are at the Metro |Radio Arena on Tuesday, September 15. Tickets at http://www.eventim.co.uk/tickets.html?fun=evdetail&doc=evdetailb&key=14 31834$5858041&affiliate=NWC
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2015
Words:606
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