Live Music Review: The Flaming Lips at Rock City

Words: Gav Squires
Thursday 17 August 2017
reading time: min, words

The Flaming Lips come to Rock City and bring more inflatables than you'd see at a children's birthday party...


Guitarist Steven Drozd walks onstage wearing a cape that wouldn't look out of place on Mick Jagger in 1969, bassist Michael Ivins wearing an England football shirt and frontman Wayne Coyne rocking the classing red suit with an eyepatch Bowie look. They kick straight into Race For The Prize with Coyne conducting both the band and the audience through an overture-like introduction. Then the confetti cannons go off and the huge balloons are launched onto the crowd, it's an incredible start to a show.


The next time we see Coyne, he's in the crowd, carrying balloons that read "Fuck Yeah Nottingham" before singing Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1 in front of a giant, inflatable pink robot. An amazing opening triptych is finished with There Should Be Unicorns as Coyne is dragged though the audience, riding a unicorn. It's hard to put into words just how fantastic this opening salvo is, incredible songs and unbelievable showmanship, by the time the unicorn has finished its journey, everyone in the crowd is grinning from ear to ear.


With Donald Trump threatening North Korea, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song seems really pertinent with its lyrics "if you could blow up the world with the world with the flick of a switch, would you do it?" Then it's time to break out the space bubble as Coyne heads out over the heads of the crowd in his giant inflatable hamster ball, singing Space Oddity, which he follows up with a beautiful eulogy for David Bowie.


Coyne introduces The Castle as a sad song but he reminds us that this should make us "laugh louder, scream more and party harder". And it is a sad song, with its metaphor that "the castle can never be rebuilt". The WAND is accompanied by a pair of dancing inflatable eyeballs and a show of strobe lighting that prompts Coyne to follow up with his tips for dealing with an epileptic seizure. The set is closed with A Spoonful Weighs A Ton and the final word, "love", echoes though the venue as the band leave the stage.


Of course, it's not really the end of the gig as they take part in that ridiculous pact between performer and audience where they walk off for five minutes before coming back for the encore that was always planned. It's time for another inflatable - a giant rainbow this time as the band finish the evening with Do You Realize??


Apart from three songs from new album Oczy Mlody, the songs are all taken from the golden Flaming Lips period of The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and At War With The Mystics, making a real fan pleasing set. Some churls may claim that all of the gimmicks detract from the music but this is probably the band's best ever line-up and they are incredibly tight from a summer of festivals and the rest of the British tour. This was one of the most fun and entertaining gigs that I've been to and it's the nay-sayers who are missing out by staying away.


Set List

Race For The Prize

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1

There Should Be Unicorns

Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung

The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)


Space Oddity

Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

The Castle

Are You A Hypnotist??

The WAND (The Will Always Negates Defeat)

A Spoonful Weighs A Ton

Do You Realize??


The Flaming Lips played Rock City on 16 August 2017.


Flaming Lips website

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