Saturday, January 25, 2003

Flaming Lips: A review

Thanks to Morag, head being at Twang magazine, for this report from Manchester:
We arrived mid way through british sea powers set and oh! How I want to love them as Rachel said she did. So few bands make an effort this days; I don't want band to melt into the audience and certainly they win points for trying. Costumes, pog jumping, model animals and trees and big bass drums….check. check. Check. Merchandise included chocolate too. The problem was the tunes; alarmingly average and prone to self indulgence. But maybe it wasn't there night; I was so excited at seeing my current second favourite band in the world perhaps I wasn't listening. I'll cock a kindly ear should they pop up on the radio and fingers crossed they will grow into the rather ace name.

After they had done, and beers had been bought, and crowds marveled at, I let Rachel into my secret route to the front of the stage. Never fails at The Academy (oh. I mean Academy One of course) and so we were suddenly at the very front, stage left. Hell, the security guy even ushered me into an even more perfect spot than the one I had identified.

Suddenly theres a huge cheer; some smelly looking bloke in a bad hat has meandered onto the stage. Oh wait; its damon gough., and its a Manchester, hence the near hysteria. I have issues with bdb; he has a smattering of solid gold pop nuggets but they are forever getting buried in his shambolic, self indulgent shit. Bah. Anyhow, despite his inherent arrogance (its not your show, fucker. We don't need you telling us how great the band is – we paid hard earned cash for our tickets) this was a time I couldn't help but love him. This was mainly because he only played three songs; not enough for me to get bored. And the middle one was a wonderous rendition of you were right, complete with the night joe strummer died. [sigh] I love this song, I love the way it starts off and you think its some crappy indiefied lady in red and then it all kicks into place and you think: yes. So simple and so right. Of course, becuase the bdb world revolves around Oldham street there was an extravagant ending of feud with alfie – like we were all caring about that one, eh kids? – but its no time to be churclish. This was a lovely little bonus before the main event.

Suddenly Carmina Buranda strikes up and the stage is invaded by dancing people in animal costumes. And in the midst is wayne coyne urging the crowd to keep bouncing the giant balloons he is throwing into the crowd. I gasp in delight as the opening notes of `race for the prize' kick in. There's someth9ing in the air and I just know its going to be a magical night. And so it is.

the lips weave a spell that is so joyful and full of wonder. I don't know how long it lasts; while they are playing I'm in a parallel world a lot like this one but stranger, happier and less cynical. At one point they talk about how every show is like a birthday party for them, and the thing is you believe them; wayne coyne looks so joyous and bouncy that its infectious and its impossible to have an ounce of cynicism when he talks about how `all that we have is now'. Hell, he even manages to dedicate a song to the volunteers of the world and how great their fans are without sounding cheesy or resorting to trite platitudes.

I have to say this makes him a deeply sexy man; it's he sheer force of will and that grin and the way he moves and… between him and the animals (what a stroke of genius!) I was transfixed. It wasn't until the next show I noticed the films behind them; mostly promo clips and tv appearances. Waiting for superman is still one of my favourite videos ever.

The sound is *fantastic* full and rich and washing over an ecstastic crowd. Most of the set is from the last two albums; when they played a kick ass version of `she don't use jelly' I marvelled at how far they've come. I mean, that's a good song to dance to, but the soft bulletin and yoshimi… are albums to change your life.

Its hard to pick highlight.s. The famous nun puppet returned to sing the last verse of a tender yoshimi…; all that we have is now was truly epic, and by the time they asked `do you reaslise happiness makes you cry' well, yes, because the tears were there. Sometimes its all you can do, when words don't exist for how marvellous something is. This is one gig I am glad I didn't go to alone because man, I needed a hug at the end. By the time they finished with `lifted up the sun' I was exhilarated and inspired and unable to stop grinning. It amy only be January but this may well be gig of the year.

The show was full of moments of childlike innocence and wonder and songs of wonderous, shimmering, life affirming beauty. If anyone asks me why music matters when there's a war going on, well I'll play them yoshimi… and if they still don't get it, fuck em.

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