From the Doug Fir to MusicfestNW in 2017, this was the year for the unapologetic ball of enthusiasm that is Lizzo to take Portland’s biggest stage, on an amazing tour full of “big vag energy,” no less. Surely feeling “Good As Hell,” the Minneapolis-based singer and rapper rocked her allotted corner of the stage with a couple of backup dancers, DJ and bottle of tequila, tilting her head waaay back and taking a long pull before closing out her set with her biggest hit to date.
From the first seconds that Annie Clark hit the Moda stage, it was clear that she’d been hanging out with David Byrne—and throughout her set she drew from the cannons of Bowie, Prince and Queen. St. Vincent did not mess around, captivating with her presence and sound as she slayed on her signature, colorful Ernie Ball Music Man guitars. Echoing Lizzo’s sentiments, she expressed her sheer pleasure to be in Portland with her fellow artists: “So glad to be here tonight with a cast of incredible, powerful women. LET’S FIGHT THE POWER!” Then she playfully teased out the opening lyrics of her set closer “New York” to include a Pok Pok shoutout while subsequently questioning if it was “Morrison Street or Avenue,” attempting to repurpose her First Avenue reference in the Rose City. “Creative license” is what she teasingly chalked it up to.
And then came the woman who floats above the stage like an airy nymph. Full of light and levity, you’d think there’s no way this fragile soul could fill an arena—but Florence Welch's goosebump-raising vocals easily overwhelmed the grand space and her lovely, genuine spirit filled the hearts and minds of fans who were overjoyed to sing along to her emotion-soaked songs. And then she began to trot, bound, bounce and twirl with abandon around her wooden honeycomb of a stage set and the whole place simply exploded.
As Florence and the Machine worked their way through material from their expansive, anthemic catalogue, Welch jumped up and down stairs before literally running and flittering around the entire basketball court-sized floor of the arena while her eight-piece band of strings, keys, backing vocalists, and the signature harp provided a palette for her to continue to endear herself to a crowd of individuals with stories and calls for togetherness. So pure and empowering, before we could end the evening it was up to everyone to leap with her and “Shake It Out” one last time. CY