Worth a Listen
I've had How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful on repeat since June and have been dying to get my hands on some official live tracks, and I'm mostly satisfied with this collection, with a few minor concerns. I was a bit shocked at the beginning of "What Kind of Man" when Florence starts singing. To me, it sounded too high of a pitch to be Flo and it was slightly different than Flo's distinct voice. My first thought was that she let one of her background singers take the lead on the opening, but that wasn't the case. I noticed this was the case a few other times throughout the album. I don't know if it was a technical malfunction, if she was ill, or it was a quality issue with the recording, or what. It by no means ruins the record, but it is slightly distracting for a seasoned fan. I also was a tad bit disappointed with some of the choices Florence made when approaching certain notes and lyrics. Especially with her older tracks like "Drumming Song" and "Rabbit Heart", I've listened to a million different live versions and in every one she made unique adjustments at certain points. However, this time around some of her choices fell flat and left me wanting more. This is only a small gripe from a super fan and should not bother most listeners. I'd bet that her voice was in need of a rest, and throughout most of the performance I had doubt that she was breathing ideally. At times she was missing some of the power I've come to expect from her and her notes sounded slightly breathy. And, the prominence of the background singers felt intrusive on occasion, but that's a problem I've had since the beginning of this album cycle. No matter, I'd still have given my left foot in order to have been in London the night of this performance.
The songs showcased on this album are a solid selection. The majority come from the most recent record with a few old favorites mixed in. The accompanying band was fabulous and I enjoyed the high-energy vibes their performance added to. The noise of the crowd intermittently cheering and clapping was never an annoyance. If anything, it felt like it contributed to the atmosphere and made everything come alive on an even greater scale.
Overall, I'd say this album is worth picking up, even though I think it's rotten of Apple to sell (a few!) videos of the performance separately, AND at a similar price. Not cool. Regardless, I foresee myself listening to this in the future.