It's a tribute to [b]City Slang[/b] that Ohio's lysergic sons should play a show in their honour..,a decade after leaving the label...
Even in their naturally psychedelic state of mind, the teeming glories of 1999 must have made it a strange year for The Flaming Lips.
Returning to London for the first time this year to play a birthday party for a label they last recorded for over ten years ago is unlikely to clarify their worldview.
Legend has it that City Slang founder Cristof Ellinghaus began the label so he could release Flaming Lips records – his first release might have ended up as The Lemonheads’ ‘Famous Spanish Dishes’, but The Lips soon followed. Given their major label successes since then, it’s a tribute to City Slang‘s independent standing that Ohio’s lysergic sons should play such a spectacular show in their honour. After superb postcards from the wooziest edges of Americana from Wheat, and the Neil-Young-on- the-rampage splendour of Built To Spill, The Flaming Lips emerge with the gong-burst splendour of ‘Race For The Prize’.
Singer Wayne Coyne (contender for the most beautiful man in rock) utilises his array of glove puppets to lunatic effect – singing monkeys and nuns are not good news for the fragile – while balloons are released to add celebratory magic to an already ecstatic ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’.
With Lee Hazlewood reportedly in the house, spiritual label mates Lambchop looking on, and passing indie trade from the likes of Danny McNamara and Pete Voss, the Lips largely keep to the life-affirming paths of ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and the glow of old favourites like ‘When You Smile’. Yet the unfamiliar material shows them pushing their riot of orchestra and human percussion to new limits, while a cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ – complete with Judy Garland sample and film clip – highlights their resolutely unironic take on this beauty thing. As Coyne retreats smiling through a cloud of glitter and balloons, it clearly matters to them too much treat it with anything but respect.