Flaming Lips Nottingham Rock City 29.05.14

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The Flaming Lips returned to Nottingham last night. Wayne Coyne is a maverick Zappa like elf, a musical dreamer who has written some amazing American Psychedelic Pop Music. ‘Do You Realize’ is a song they played last night, everytime I hear it I have to marvel at how perfect it is. The band that played it were almost completely obscured from view by the cosmic flashing rope lights dangling down in front of the stage. They finished with The Beatles’ Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and tinsel was fired into the air at the start of each chorus, played in a heavy rock style.

Some months ago, I was surprised and happy and thought the world had turned a corner because The Flaming Lips were advertised to play the big Nottingham Arena, but last night they were transfered to a less than sold out Rock City. There’s the dilemma. I’ve always found it pretty irksome when my favourite band is suddenly embraced by the larger demographic. For that to happen the band has to ever so slightly start to learn to take it up the arse and sell a cosmic part of their being to a man in a long dark coat who’s wants to become a billionaire. In 1990 I was a student working behind the bar in a pub called Henry Boons and a ‘towny’ sitting at the bar, whom I knew to be a policeman and was a shocking 30 years old, nodded his head to the music on the jukebox and looked at me and said, “This is great, who is it?” It was REM, it was Shiny Happy People, it was hippy wigs in Woolworths.

Not the same with ‘Race For the Prize’ or ‘Yoshimi’ or ‘Do You Realize’ though, you want the towny and the policeman to like it and you are willing them on to fill the Arenas with people chanting those songs. Are these songs still too way-out-there and cosmic for the demographic? Yes, I’m afraid so, Elbow is just about as cosmic as they can get when it comes to ‘alternative rock’. Shit. I take my hat off to The Flaming Lips for just being there. Wayne Coyne and Michael Ivins, the bass player, have been the only constant members since they started in 1983. Dreamers after my own heart.



  1. A fantastic live band. They were headlining bestival last time I saw then and deservedly so. Even though I own their entire album back cat they played four songs I knew but the spectacle was just awe-inspiring! It’s just sad they’re doing covers albums to get mainstream attention (wtf is smiley Cyrus involved for?????)

    Elbow are a curious anomaly. They were pretty much ignored for their troubled first album (took nearly ten years to make and one aborted producer/mix; also their best) to only be noticed for their softer lyrical content and more acessable/joyful music on their third album onwards.

    Jarvis cocker kept pulp going from 1982 (!!!) to be remembered for a similar fate to the recent flaming lips experience of half filled areas/reduced capacity settings. Hence the recent comeback and sporadic dates.

    And to top it all blur have sold 13 million albums worldwide compared to oasis’ 450(!!!)

    I guess it pays not to be artistic. :^<

    However, Radiohead have been together (as the same line up) since 1986 (!!!!) and have got better and better and continue to sell out massive venues and tours worldwide.

    Stick with it Chris. You're not confined to forgotten embers and you haven't yet been given the true plinth you deserve. The world and people are strange commodities!

  2. One of the few bands I have seen that completely blew me away with me hardly having heard them before – it was somewhere in Liverpool soon after they had stopped playing in car parks and had moved onto multi CD’s of music I never quite had the time to gather together the necessary equipment to listen to.

    2 other things – 1. I think I may have seen REM in Nottingham Rock City a long time ago and it was one of those gigs I would like to live over and perhaps over again 2. driving home this evening your John Peel session came up on a shuffle. It was good to hear his voice again moaning about football and then coming in with the ‘lets bossa nova.’

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