Feel good hits of the summer!
Ignoring the excruciating town crier who welcomed the band on stage, is there a better way to announce your arrival than by rolling around the crowd in a giant ball? As Wayne Coyne rolled over the heads of his crowd in his own little bubble, any unsuspecting viewer is immediately informed that the Flaming Lips are not like any other band. If any doubts about that fact remained, the second track of the evening, which was an instrumental loop based around a Led Zeppelin sample was surely more than enough to make jaws drop and heads be scratched. The boys from Oklahoma play by their own rules and if anyone has a problem with it, they can tell it to the dancing aliens, Santas and the camera wielding Wonder Woman who all appeared on stage.
The Flaming Lips at a festival are slightly different from their own shows, the sense of peave and love is still there but festival sets take up more time between songs as Wayne tries to explain things or to get his point across. Like most American travellers, there seems to be a desire to distance themself from George Bush and there is a lengthy introduction of 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah song' to ensure the crowd knows he history of the track and that they join in as heartfelt as possible. For long-term fans it may be frustrating but for a new crowd, it can probably only increase the fun and involvement levels. There was even a slowed down version of 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots', again to encourage audience participation and what it lacked in dynamics, it gained in a communal sense. Which was good, as sometimes throwing a hundred ballons and shooting off confetti guns.
At times it seemed that Wayne Coyne was cajoling and pulling the crowd into some form of reaction but in a strange way, it was almost having the negative affect on the crowd. Each extended chat or lengthy description seemed to be time away from playing another song and preventing the momentum of the gig from building but thats the thing about a Flaming Lips show, its more than just the music and at times you have to accept a few songs will be sacrificed in order to build the scene. A notable omission of the set was the seminal early hit 'She Dont Use Jelly' but on the whole there was still enough classic songs to keep everyone happy.
That early hit may have been left out but some of the well-known songs from 'The Soft Bulletin' remain a pivotal part of the show, with 'Race For The Prize' acting as a stunning opening number and 'Waiting For Superman' still tugging the heartstrings and providing yet another great singalong number. They may not be well know but the Flaming Lips have more than enough moments for their own karaoke disc, but given some of the audience participation, this writer included, perhaps its just as well this product doesnt yet exist!
In 'Do You Realise?' the band has one of the most apparent set-closers, with its theme of making the most of now and cherishing the people that are close to you, its the perfect example of the love and friendship vibe that the band try to spread around the world. In fact, the only problem is that the band usually come back on and play another song after its finished, it really would be the most perfect song to end with but I suppose you cant really complain about getting more songs and everyone was delighted to see the band arrive back on stage.
With an encore of the Rolling Stones 'Moonlight Mile' bringing the night to a laid-back close, the Flaming Lips proved yet again that they have an almost other-world type qaulity to them and some of the local residents may have bamboozled by the laser show that was projected from Victoria Park, it wasnt an alien invasion, merely a band who some would consider to be out of this world.