So last night Rach and I saw the Flaming Lips at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. What a show!
We got there early and nabbed a spot near the stage, in the centre. Even before the support band had started Lips frontman and funmeister Wayne Coyne – resplendent in grey suit and trademark loosened bow tie – could not resist appearing briefly to fire some streamers into the audience. As the support act played Wayne again popped onto the edge of the stage, looking every bit the mad scientist among the smoke and flashing lights.
Now, I’ve been to quite a few big rock shows over the years, and I have never – ever – seen a member of the headline act carry his own equipment on stage, until last night. Lips’ guitarist/keyboardist/drummer and all round musical genius, Steven Drozd, is obviously a hands-on kinda guy, because as soon as the support band wrapped up Steven appeared, lugging his large, orange keyboard rig. Wayne also was busy making sure his many stage props were in working order.
The impression you get from the Flaming Lips is that they are certainly not your typical “big rock act”. And that there’s nothing more natural in the world than to carry your own gear onto the stage, plug it in, test it out, and say “hi” to the audience. It was a delight to watch.
For those who are aware of the Lips’ live performances, you’ll know that at the start of the show Wayne rolls across the audience in a large clear plastic bubble. We were lucky enough to be right underneath as he passed overhead, doing our bit to transport his capsule across the crowd.
Meanwhile the sides of the stage filled with lucky punters dressed as white bunnies and green frogs, who danced around for the duration of the show. An 8-foot high inflatable caterpillar and yellow sun-like blob also made appearances and wobbled away to the beat. And although I didn’t see it, Rach tells me that at one point Wayne was on the shoulders of a large brown bear.
It would be hard not to enjoy a show like the Flaming Lips put on last night. Not only was the music uplifting and joyful, but they are a rockin’ band too – the lighter moments mixed in with some fine guitar crunch. The audience participation continued throughout, with almost every song a sing-along and the crowd showered continuously with streamers, confetti and oversized balloons.
Wayne chattered away between songs, acting as emcee and coordinating all extra-musical activity. This guy is certainly one of a kind, as are the band as a whole. It will be a sad day indeed when these guys stop making music.