MUSIC

Florence + the Machine embarks on U.S. tour

Patrick Ryan
USA TODAY
Florence Welch and her band will hit the road for a North American tour starting Friday in Nashville.

Yes, even rock stars need to eat their veggies.

Two weeks after Dave Grohl broke his leg falling offstage this summer, Florence + the Machine filled in for him at the U.K.'s Glastonbury Festival. Emailing beforehand, "I just said, 'If you've got a broken bone, you have to eat lots of broccoli because there's iron in it,' " says frontwoman Florence Welch. "I was really nervous about Glastonbury and he said whenever he's nervous, he watches Queen performing at Live Aid and that sorts him out. So that's what I watched, too."

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Of course, Welch, 29, knows a few things about nursing injuries. The British siren fractured her foot in a freewheeling stage dive at Coachella in April, but was up and prancing across the Governors Ball stage in New York less than two months later, mere days after her How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album release. As she revs up a three-week North American tour that kicks off Friday in Nashville, the pesky appendage is the least of her concerns.

"It feels fine now," Welch says brightly. "It gives me a little trouble, occasionally, but I almost don't remember that it happened. Sometimes, I'm like, 'Wow, I broke a bone. That was a whole thing.' "

In fact, she's glad it happened. Leading up to Beautiful's launch in June, she performed a handful of gigs to intimate crowds in Los Angeles and New York (including Saturday Night Live). Sitting on a stool, she was backed by stripped-down arrangements which only underscored her powerful lilt.

"That was kind of amazing," Welch says. "It gave me a chance to go back to how it was when I first started performing, which was literally more of a singer/songwriter telling stories and talking about songs. I didn't realize how much I was using my physicality as almost another distraction and it was really interesting to have to be vulnerable in that way again."

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The injury became a metaphor of sorts for her new music — the product of a near-breakdown fueled by relationship problems, heavy drinking (“I used to drink before every performance. ... But I don't anymore,” she told Billboard in May) and nearly four years of non-stop touring in support of albums Lungs (2009) and Ceremonials (2011). Taking a year off from the road to record Beautiful, she channeled those frustrations into searing anthems such as Ship to Wreck and What Kind of Man and now feels rejuvenated heading back out.

"Having that year where I really had to face myself, I found a new approach to (touring), which is less extreme," Welch says. "Having been so broken down by it, as it were, the album itself kind of got me back up again, and I had to deal with a lot of things in my life. It's a work in progress, but I'm managing to still do that while touring, which is really good."

On this 11-city trek, Welch and her band will headline Austin City Limits festival Sunday and play two dates (Oct. 16 and 17) at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl (which partly inspired Beautiful's title track). They'll also play New Orleans' Voodoo Music + Arts Experience over Halloween weekend, which happens to coincide with keyboardist Isabella Summers' (aka "the Machine's") Oct. 31 birthday.

Although they haven't come up with Halloween costumes yet, it will be tough to top last year's. "We were Calvin and Hobbes," Welch laughs. "Because I'm tall and orange, and she's small and blond."