Though it’s a little after the fact, I was provided a couple of Sundays ago with proof that, outside all the chin-stroking, introspective, fey, effeminate and (for the most part) identikit indie music that the UK seems to revel in lauding at the moment, there is sometimes music made simply because of the pleasure that it gives the listener. This band was The Flaming Lips.
I came to them late in the day. An ex-girlfriend pointed me in the direction of the joys of Yoshimi in 2004, and since then, from there and their last long-player, 2005’s At War With The Mystics I know that I can dip into them in the knowledge that not everything has to be like the majority of the music that the NME tells us is ‘now’.
But it was seeing them in concert that showed their true majesty. While Radiohead’s concert little under month before in the same Victoria Park stage was masterful, sublime, ethereal, emotional and edgy, this sunday evening showed that there’s nothing better than a band that loves performing, and loves including their audience in the process as if they themselves were stood onstage.
Some bands have video, some have lights, but Wayne Coyne and his cohorts have much more. Teams of superheroes and cheerleaders, streamer cannons, gongs, megaphones, mic cameras, balloons, and everything aimed at involving the people that have paid the money to be charmed by their idiosynchratic blend of pop and rock. If it’s not singalongs, it’s soliloquys on the state of America and the evil of George Bush, or just whipping up the masses with his enthusiasm, their charismatic frontman makes other bands seem pedestrian by their simple lack of connection.
But you need the songs to back it up, and they have them in spades. Whether it’s the anger of the Yeah Yeah Yeah song, the abstraction of Yoshimi or the emotion of Do You Realise (sic) it’s an incredible experience, and one that justifies the almost religious devotion of their fans.
Put it simply, it’s music and theatre to make you remember life is worth living, and if music is anything, then surely that’s the sole thing.