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.