...one of the most stupid and yet deeply pleasurable things NME's seen for ages...
The Flaming Lips arrive onstage to a brisk blast of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ (for philistines: the music from the Old Spice ads) and footage of a naked woman jiggling about. Then the messages appear. HELLO! reads the huge pink writing. TONIGHT YOU WILL WITNESS! THE MOST SPECTACULAR THING! YOU HAVE EVER SEEN! YOUR LIFE! WILL CHANGE! FOREVER! Not entirely true, of course, but nice sentiments nonetheless.
The band are stationed in a line – no drummer-at-the-back hierachy here. Keyboardist/bassist Michael Ivins, excitingly-named percussionist Kliph Scurlock and Drozd all wear headless pink animal suits. Wayne’s still in the cumpled linen, but waves and pogos like a tartrazine’d toddler, chucking confetti about, puncturing balloons with his guitar and waving a neon light like a lariat. Even dour old Michael’s grinning like he’s at a wedding.
It’s hard to separate the music from the spectacle: floation tank visuals mesh with Battle Royale’s Japo-horror as ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt.1’ lollops along, Wayne drags out a megaphone and strobe box for ‘Lightening Strikes The Postman’ and the completion of a surf-metal version of nutso Pink Floyd man Syd Barrett’s ‘Lucifer Sam’ sees Drozd celebrating with liberal swigs of Jim Beam. After leading the crowd in a lusty rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ dedicated to Lynn (19 today) and Jessica , they encore with a fragile ‘What Is The Light?’ and declarations of love for the people of Glasgow.
It’s the dancing animals that really steal the night, though, as well as a fair portion of the band’s rider. Whopping, frugging and hopping, one particularly exuberent rooster strafes the audience with his torch like a prison warder. It’s simultaneously one of the most stupid and yet deeply pleasurable things NME’s seen for ages. Only someone with a heart made of granite would find reason to complain. Sad to report, however, but the zebra’s dancing was a little flat. Next time give it a little more life, dearie.
Backstage post-party and the mood is once again subdued. A couple of Mogwai mill about while Wayne ponders the nature of his band’s live show. “Even if people thought this was stupid and smallminded we’d probably carry on doing it. But this isn’t genius, this is just stuff. The confetti I throw, anyone can get that. Anyone can throw confetti on any night of the week if they like. It’s all just stuff.”
Maybe. But it takes a special kind of genius to transform such simple stuff into something so transcendentally great. The Flaming Lips are geniuses of goodwill.