They're Flaming back on finest fettle
Rory McInnes-Gibbons

14:38 22nd January 2017

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Tell you what would trump any inauguration ceremony, one in which the Flaming Lips brought their kaleidoscopic carnival to the streets of Washington DC. For those suffering from a particularly obdurate bout of January blues, Wayne Coyne and co. were here to blast away any memory of reality.

Do you realise just what being in an adult ball pit while a deranged middle-aged clown fires confetti out of a canon, can do for the soul? Giant balloons career left, right and centre knocking hats and pints to the already sticky floor, while space invader inflatables stand surreal sentinel over our straggly haired showman centre stage.

After an ill-conceived and wayward detour into some bizarre, tentacle hand-held baby type thing on their 2013 tour for The Terror, the Lips are back doing what they do best. And that is bringing childlike glee to the faces of the often glum and humdrum London crowds. The baby is gone, only the tentacles remain in a glittering light display that descends from the ceiling.

The Flaming Lips effortlessly blend musical experience with optical extravaganza. Opening with classics, Race For The Prize and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part I, they instantly achieve their crowd pleasing apogee. “This sing along would probably be the best most bands have ever had. But we are not most bands,” Coyne suggestively teases as they restart Yoshimi in order to get the karate chop just right. Yes, seriously.

Call them what you want, the props, gimmicks and innovations keep coming. From inflatable rainbows during ‘What is the Light?’ to dancing eyeballs, the David Bowie tribute, ‘Space Oddity’ finds Coyne crowd surfing in his inflatable hamster ball. It becomes an internal onstage battle as he attempts to scale such a height throughout the night.

Most bands would enjoy the luxury of having their lead man appear astride a unicorn as a visual distraction during one of their new songs. It as though the songs off of latest release Oczy Mlody are realised according to their potential for spectacle in the live setting rather than their actual quality. ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ surely being a case in point.

But when the crowd is having this much fun, just give them what they want. And they do just that as the simplest of love songs, ‘Do You Realize???’ sends the Academy crowds humming into the midnight air.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons