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Review: Flaming Lips (Nottingham Post)

The Flaming Lips were at Rock City last night, and rest assured, no one was left disappoined. Nottingham Post's Sean Hewitt was there to witness a fantastic spectacle!


SOMETIMES they do still play them like they used to.

In the 90s, Flaming Lips completely took me by surprise. I'd never heard of them when I turned up at Rock City to see Mercury Rev play a gig based around their marvellous Deserters' Songs album. Time has mercifully erased most of the Mercury Rev set from my memory, but I'll never forget the openers: Flaming Lips' experimentation, humour, eerie atmospheres and winning psychedelic melodies made them to this day the best support act I have ever seen.

I saw them many times over the next few years and each show was an uplifting, weird audio-visual treat. And you had to see them to understand the appeal.

Over the years, though, I've lost touch. Their disastrous cover version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon (did anyone play it twice?) stopped me short. That this gig was originally booked into the Capital FM Arena was another ominous sign. Their plan to re-record Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, with guests including Miley Cyrus, sounded like the final nail in the coffin.

Well, we're all wrong sometimes.

My first thought was how weird the stage looked, draped with miles of dull plastic tubing. When the band shuffled on to tentatively open with The Abandoned Hospital Ship, it looked like my fears were justified. From the start, frontman Wayne Coyne tried too hard to chivvy us along

Then it all took off. The tubing became a blinding network of flashing colours - fibre-optic neon spaghetti - while confetti guns bombarded the audience..

From then on, it was just like the old days. True, there was little later material - despite an awesome Watching The Planets - but that meant we got more of the classics. A real crowd-pleaser like She Don't Use Jelly was the second song. Race For The Prize was delivered mid-set. And Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1 was as joyful as ever. A succession of winners like In The Morning Of The Magicians, Spoonful Weighs A Ton and the magical Do You Realize?? brought many to the verge of tears.

They ended with Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, remodelling the chorus into something that sounded (and looked) like Motörhead trying to drown out a drone attack in the middle of one of those inflatable Luminarium things.

I'd never experienced anything like it. Again. Five neon spaghetti stars out of five.