The Flaming Lips
Wayne Coyne is G-O-D. Let's just get that out of the way now. The coolest of rock stars, he ambles on and off stage during the pre-show set up, keeping a watchful eye on arrangements, ensuring that everything is just so. He chats amiably to the audience as if we're all mates sat in his living room with a cup of tea in front of Coronation Street. He comments on the monsoon-like weather outside which most of us have been drenched by, and promises they didn't bring it with them from Oklahoma. He watches from the wings as support band Annuals get things going with their crazed psychedelic fairground sound (not far removed from the Guillemots with the amps turned up). He is friendly, affable and jovial, setting the scene for the show that is to follow.
And it really is a show. The band (and of course the groups of aliens and Santas lucky enough to have been plucked from the crowd to join them onstage) enter to a triumphant fanfare, alongside blasts of confetti cannons on either side of the stage, about 100 enormous orange balloons for the audience to play with beachball-style, and a majestic rendition of opening number 'Race for the Prize'. Even had the crowd not been filled with Lips fanatics, they couldn't have helped but be wowed over by this giddy atmosphere of a demented kid's birthday party.
For the band's ethos is infectious to say the least. Their 'why not?' attitude means that they have the coolest toys ever on stage: streamer guns, confetti cannons, giant-balloon-blowing machines, puppets (what show is complete without puppets?), a camera on Wayne's microphone and one inside a loud speaker, not to mention the toy lasers they gave the audience to shoot Wayne with.
More then just a spectacle, though, the Lips' dogma of pure love, joy, appreciation and respect between all humans (and non-humans, for that matter) never seemed more tangible than at this gig. The interaction and mutual affection between the band and the crowd was genuinely touching - especially during the chants of 'Steeeeeeeeevooooo' which coaxed Steven Drozd back on stage despite visibly being in a considerable amount of pain thanks to a nasty sinus infection. He didn't have a clue what on earth we were all yelling, but he was moved nonetheless.
And whilst so much of the night was about the show and the experience, nothing detracted from the music. As performance-perfect as you could hope for, and with more energy than one would imagine possible, they blew the doors off the place. They rocked to the max with the likes of 'She Don't Use Jelly' and 'Free Radicals', had the audience singing themselves hoarse with the dementedly silly 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song', endeared themselves to us forever with the most joyfully beautiful 'Yoshimi...' parts I & II and 'Do You Realize??' and even got us all in the mood for the holiday season with a hands-waving-in-the-air version of 'White Christmas'.
Despite the fact that the night was cut a little short due to Steven's illness, and the glaring omission of 'Waiting for Superman', this was truly the most energizing, entertaining and enjoyable gig imaginable. Only the most hardened of hard hearts could have left without feeling some giddy sense of renewed optimism and belief in the human experience and human endeavour, and a face aching from so much laughter and smiling.
I've always been told that a Flaming Lips gig is something which must be seen to be believed. Well, I say again - Wayne is God and I believe.
Photos: Roisin Patterson