The Flaming Lips - Manchester Apollo - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Flaming Lips - Manchester Apollo

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2012-05-12

The Flaming Lips have been on my must-see-live, bucket-list of bands for a long time. Their live reputation precedes them; tales of Wayne Coyne walking over the audience in a huge plastic ball, a stage full of people in various animal costumes, and more glitter than you can shake a stick at. All that and those incredible songs.

However, most gigs of this size (a few thousand people) I’d attended had been a little disappointing; the bands always seemed too far away and something important was lost in translation. Could the Flaming Lips really buck the trend and live up to expectation?

Dressed in a silver tinsel coat and what looked like a flesh-coloured bodysuit, Coyne looks every bit the psychedelic rock star (and partly like a Christmas tree too). Any niggling thoughts of disappointment are blown clean away in the first minute as they kick things off with a particularly gorgeous version of ‘The Abandoned Hospital Ship’ from ’95 classic, Clouds Taste Metallic. The band is joined on stage by some lucky punters in huge, brightly coloured costumes. I think there's a dinosaur and a giant smiling sun. It’s like the best kids TV show that never was.  

The Flaming Lips really know how to put on a show. My eyes nearly pop out of my skull when they play the fantastic ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’, backed by cascading rainbow colours on the huge screen behind them. Being in Manchester, they also treat us to a surprise rendition of The Stone Roses’ ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. The communal spirit that I often didn’t feel at larger concerts is suddenly there, The Lips can really bring a room together.

By the time they play ‘Feeling Yourself Disintegrate’ I’ve worked my way further forward, putting my hands in the air in a manner that probably looks like I’m in some kind of evangelical church. ‘A Spoonful Weighs a Ton’ sounds mind-bendingly beautiful, while ‘Race for the Prize’ still sounds like the best pop song ever written. All the time, the screen flashes images of kaleidoscopic colours, eyeballs and naked women. Another point sees Coyne bring on a huge figure made from shiny, silver balloons before throwing it into the open palms of the audience.

All the glitter in the world wouldn’t mean much without good material, but The Lips have this in abundance. Hearing the brilliant ‘Watching the Planets’ live reminds me to listen to Embryonic a lot more, while ‘The W.A.N.D’ sounds like some futuristic reimagining of Pink Floyd (if they knew how to loosen up and have some fun). I’m aware all this unabashed foaming at the mouth may sound a little overblown, but The Flaming Lips really are as great live as everyone tells you.

There’s no plastic ball but Coyne does sing part of the set while stood on top of a huge, neon-lit box in the centre of the stage. They encore with ‘Do You Realise??’ before coming back on a second time to do the second surprise cover of the night, this time a huge version of The Beatles ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. As the songs still ring in our ears, the screen flashes the word 'LOVE'.

For most bands this would all seem rather cheesy. With The Flaming Lips, it just seems absolutely perfect. Still bringing psychedelia to the masses 30 years after forming. Nice work, guys.

Comments (6)

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These are also on my list and I was debating whether to go to this gig but I hate the Apollo. The fact that you can't stand near the side walls is a joke.

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Any problems disappear when they start though!

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Saw them at the Harvest Festival in Sydney 2 years ago. Coyne appeared through a slide shute, "birthed" via a projection of a spread eagled hippie chick.

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Sounds like a really awesome gig!

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I wonder if I'm related to Wayne Coyne?

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The picture of Wayne in a cape, the cape was made by a friend! Think Wayne was pretty chuffed. She's made one for Karen O before too (who wore hers on stage)

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