The wonder of Zoo.
In the live arena, The Flaming Lips put on a show that the majority of bands could only dream about. Mixing their anthemic sky-scraping songs with a knack of visual representation, their gigs have long been held up as a mark of what live perfomances should be. More of a show than a gig, their new DVD 'U.F.O.s At The Zoo'captures their hometown performance at the Oklahoma City Zoo, an apt setting for the craziness and magic that goes on.
The brief introductions build the atmosphere and inidcate the lengths the band went to, to ensure the gig was more than just an ordinary event. As the balloons bounce and the confetti flutters, 'Race For The Prize' gallops off at top speed, setting the scene for the evening ahead. The sides of the stage was filled with people dressed as santa or aliens, the thinking behind this is the band trying to capture the spirits of good and evil but in reality, its an excuse for people to participate in fancy dress and make the show more of a communal effort. It has always worked in person and the sense of fun and excitement is in no way diminished on film.
The set is interspersed with fans offering their take on the bands live show and the over-riding impression is how much the gig and the band means to people, there is a sense of awe and wonder about The Flaming Lips that comes across strongly. The band still make their political feelings known and how they dislike George Bush and the abuse of power but they attempt to channel positivity
One other good thing is that over recent years, the amount of talking and chat between songs has increased during Flaming Lips shows so this DVD allows the viewer to skip past these moments and only watch the songs or the vignettes. The intro to 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah song' extends into a good few moments which on first watch is fine but if the DVD is going to be watched repeatedly, moments like this will be flicked over. The song itself is a beauty though, as upbeat as its title suggests, holding a mirror up to human thoughts and on how power can corrupt.
The footage has a lot of different camera angles and viewpoints, including a small camera situated on Wayne Coynes microphone looking up at him as he sings. This camera has been a mainpoint of the bands live act for over a decade, best utilised when Coyne is joined by small puppets or when the singer is trying to prove a point or emotion by shaking his fist. 'The Spark That Bled' sees the front-man covered in stage blood, which is probably the best close-up on the DVD.
The intro to 'She Dont Use Jelly' is greeted like a winning goal at the football, the first major hit for the band and now in its teenage years, its a simple and silly song that manages to get a large singsong, in spite of its whacky lyrics. The mention of the girl who reminds him of Cher, the use of tangerines as a hair colouring product or the guy who picks his nose are all images that are pretty nonsensical but they sure are fun.
Visually, as you've probably gathered by now, the band are immense and the only dissapointment is that some of the bands more visual songs arent available on the DVD. 'Lightning Strikes The Postman' found the stage covered in smoke with a liht emittinng device strapped to Coynes chest whilst he barks out the lyrics through a megaphone, the song is a visual and sonic masterpiece and its inclusion here would have made this a lengendary DVD, as would 'Waiting For Superman?', one of the most heartfelt and touching songs of recent years. So thats two songs that would have made this package better, and there is a lack of proper extras on the package but thats a minor complaint and with 'Do You Realize??', The Flaming Lips have written one of the most important tracks around. The simple yet important message that life should be about the things and people you love can never be overlooked and to have this rammed home in such an emphatic musical manner is a brilliant sight.
This writer has long been in love with the music and theatrics of The Flaming Lips and the biggest compliment that can be paid is that the DVD captures the beauty and wonder of the bands live show perfectly.