Florence and the Machine return to Brockley roots

Florence Welch. Pic: Promotional image

Chart-topping singer Florence Welch came back to her musical roots in Brockley last week, where she began her hugely successful career.

Welch and her band performed tracks from their latest album Ceremonials at the famous Grade II listed Rivoli Ballroom as part of a live broadcast on BBC Radio 2.

The band’s first album, Lungs, was officially launched with a set at the Rivoli in July 2009, before going on to take the number one spot in the UK charts in January 2010.

Owners Bill and Jeannie Mannix, who are good friends with Welch, have been restoring and running the property for 40 years.

Bill Mannix said: “She’s a lovely, lovely girl. The performance was brilliant – she was absolutely electrifying.

“It was lovely to see her back where she started, especially when she went on to sell over a million albums after singing here.”

The Rivoli has become an iconic venue over the last four decades, playing host to stars like Kate Moss, Elton John and Tina Turner in addition to providing the backdrop as a site for films, photo-shoots and even Heineken adverts.

Bill Mannix said: “The décor is a Victorian style. We have sprung maple floors, which made it one of the best dance floors when it opened in 1959. The interior makes the ballroom one of a kind in London.”

When the Mannixes received an offer to sell the building for over 10 million pounds in 2008, English Heritage awarded it listed status after concerns were raised that selling it might see the historical ballroom knocked down.

They then chose to continue running the ballroom, and now hire it out regularly for events.

Florence and the Machine were almost late on stage for their 90-minute show after drummer Chris Hayden found himself trapped in one of the Rivoli’s toilet cubicles. The cubicle door had to be removed by staff and Hayden was freed shortly before the group were due to perform.

While performing, Welch said: “Thanks so much for having us back. It’s so wonderful to be home, and here of all places, it’s amazing. Thank you.”

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