Sunday, April 23, 2006
Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell
So Saturday day time was a bit rubbish. No need for details, thank you, but I needed cheering up. When I'm down, I go to church. And since I'm not religious, I worship at the temples of commerce on Oxford Street. HMV and Virgin satisfied my desire for consumption with round shiny treats. But still, it wasn't enough. As lovely as records are, they don't give spiritual reward on their own. No, something much stronger was required. Luckily, on Friday, I'd booked tickets to see a band. And not just any band. Probably the best live band in the world. And at not just any old venue. Probably the best live venue in the world. The Royal Albert Hall, no less.
But before we get to the headliners, we had the small matter of the support to enjoy. The Go! Team are just wonderful. Pure bottled enthusiasm, I've never seen any support band play with such unreserved sincerity and joy. It was fabulous to behold. I've had their album for a while, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's now got an entirely new feel to it thanks to their fantastic performance. Frontwoman Ninja is my new on stage hero, throwing shapes and filling the vintage venue with her own unique personality. Just wonderful. But we all knew the best was yet to come.
And so, on to The Flaming Lips. They're just the greatest. Seeing them live is akin to a religious awakening. It's hard to explain quite why they're so great. They get the crowd involved at every level. They have people up on stage dressed as aliens and Santa Claus. They have great visuals throughout. They get everyone to sing along to the best bits. They throw inflatable balloons out for everyone to chuck around, and see if they can get it up to the circle (when one finally got all the way up there, it got the biggest cheer of the night.) They get couples to propose on stage. They play along to a kids toy which makes farmyard noises. Lead singer Wayne Coyne covers himself with fake blood. They rally against their own US government without resorting to glib cliches, and then play a storming version of Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs'.
Oh, yeah. The music. They play music, too. Amazing mystical crazy music. I must confess to only really having been into them for their last 3 albums, but I'm already more than familiar with their earlier stuff from seeing them twice before. They sing about love, death, politics, happiness, sadness, everything. And it's just great! Everyone's jumping around. It's the sound of being glad to be alive, and hoping that together we can overcome the problems in the world. Few other bands, if any, can pull such a thing off, but then The Flaming Lips aren't like other bands.
Everyone leaves with a grin on their face, and then the icing on the cake. We get into the afterparty where there's free booze! The rest of the night was a bit hazy, but wonderful fun. All thanks to The Flaming Lips. If you get an opportunity to see them live, I implore you to do so. And in the mean time, pick up some of their CD's. Their current At War With The Mystics is great, and The Soft Bulletin is one of my favourite albums of all time. But to be honest, they're all good. Best Live Band In The World. And I don't make statements like that lightly...
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