Monday, November 20, 2006

REVIEW: The Flaming Lips (Vicar Street, Dublin)

The faces of every party gadget manufacturer in Taiwan must light up when Wayne Coyne and co show up, shopping for a new stage show. The Flaming Lips clearly spend life on constant watch for wacky stuff to amuse us, like ideal uncles, always looking out for cool gifts for the kids.

Tonight, alongside the stageside regiment of girls dressed as metallic mini-skirted aliens, another battalion of Santas, some smoke-spewing blunderbusses and a flock of enormous crowdsurfing balloons, each of us has been given a laser pointer. Don’t use them all up straight away, Coyne warns us in a pre-show pep talk, we’ve a really cool thing we want to do with them later.

And then, with everybody equipped and informed, the show explodes in the scifi psychedelia of Race for the Prize, the air is suddenly thick with confetti and bouncing balls and Marvel characters who leap from the stage to begin marching around the auditorium.

What is on offer here is more than the chance to hear live versions of the favourites – though all the anthems, from the antique power pop of She Don’t Use Jelly, via the blissful Do You Realise, to the teetering-towards-twee, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion, are all present and splendidly incorrect.

But even if you the band serve up what amounts to a greatest hits show, the main satisfaction here is still in joining in this freaky communal happening. And tonight that involves not just some dancing and a singalong, but that laser trick, for which Coyne encourages everybody to “shoot” him with their little gadgets, only to appear with a mirror, sending a dancing haze of red beams around the darkened hall.

It works spectacularly well, like so much of the show, not because of the stupefying amounts spent on it – take a bow, U2 – but because it’s a good idea executed with the sole aim of seeing just how much fun a roomful of people can have when they play together. Plenty, is the answer.

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