[Live Review] The Flaming Lips – TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

the-flaming-lips-tour-vredenburgFUCK YEAH UTRECHT, Benji was right all along!

Warming up a hall filled with ever-critical Dutchmen isn’t the most easy thing to do but The Flaming Lips’ supporting act, Georgia, got the job done. Her energetic drumming caused a lot of heads to bob, which on its own is a pretty nice result. Once all was said and done it took another half hour before Wayne Coyne and the rest of the band entered the stage that was crammed with confetti canons, inflatable mushrooms and a huge structure made of numerous pulsating light cords.

Coyne made an amiable impression before he started the music and threw around some silver confetti: “If you saw this confetti three hours ago you would be like “meh”, but now I’m throwing it you’re like “YEAH”.”. Also he tried to recollect his last visit to The Netherlands: “…hmm, does anyone remember? [followed by a silence from the band]…. Maybe we have been through here […]”. This was his cue to turn his back to the audience and like a true maestro he brought synths in line for The Lips’ opening anthem for this 2017 European winter tour.

flaming-lips-tour-2017-wrm-0At the first tones of ‘Race for the Prize’ people immediately got what they came for: complete party mayhem. As the light cords began displaying all colors of the rainbow, the two cannons flanking the stage started to burst out enormous amounts of confetti. Coyne himself started running around the stage, singing with his familiar out-of-tune falsetto voice while launching in his own ‘magic dust’ from several confetti pipes. This grand opening was directly followed by another classic, however before starting a huge inflatable frog-man, catfish-man and sun-man stepped on stage and a big silver balloon reading “FUCK YEAH UTRECHT” was pulled out from the backstage. Coyne threw balloon into the crowd where it was slowly destroyed. It was reason enough to stop the the first chords of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, part 1’:”This happened on other shows as well guys. The balloon is a gift from me to you, so indeed I don’t want it back”, Coyne said with a dry sense of humor. Hereafter ‘Yoshimi’ was carried out in style with help of a few massive karate shouts coming from the audience. ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ was the first track of the recently released ‘Oczy Mlody’. Here Coyne gave the stage to the band who began building tension as lights were turned to a more sober setting . For a moment there the trip seemed to turn bad. Yet, halfway through the song Coyne returned wearing a fake fur coat and glitter trousers while sitting on the back of an illuminated life-sized unicorn. Only three songs in and the Ronda was already surrealistically upside down and best of all, we all saw it coming!

‘Race for the Prize’, ‘Yoshimi’ and ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ not only serve as a grand opening but also are illustrative for the rest of evening. Each song contained a different gimmick which was constantly played out by the band as a tool for interaction. ‘Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung’ had a gong surrounded by circular leds in it, gigantic eyeballs dancing on strobes were there to crack up the wicked riff of ‘The W.A.N.D.’ and trippy pink-white-blue light cord rain magically fell up and down during ‘How??

At some point it was difficult to keep up with this zap-through alternate universe. Did we really see a 200 dollar rainbow inflate between all those new salvo’s of confetti? Hmm, it became somewhat blurry. Anyway, the two-hour show really came to stop when Coyne stepped into his giant plastic ball while singing Bowie’s Space Oddity. Coyne’s walk over the crowd was short-lived because he got stuck underneath the Ronda’s balcony. Nevertheless Coyne’s ode to Bowie was completed with passion to the satisfaction of all.

flaming-lips-tour-2017-wrm-3

Although the acoustics of the Ronda was fabulous last saturday I can’t escape the feeling that the ambitions of The Flaming Lips exceeds the space that was available to them. Indeed, The Lips made the best of it. A little cramming stuff on stage never hurt anyone of course. Yet it was a bit of a pity that, apart from Coyne, the band was covered in light cords for the larger part of the show. From the ground level it was difficult to spot them. In the end it does not change the fact that we had a whole lot of fun which lasted until the last notes of ‘Do You Realize??’ faded out.

Since a few years The Flaming Lips have two faces. There’s one of inward, sober work that comes from the studio and there is one for on stage in which uncompromising fun rules the venues. Frankly I believe Coyne doesn’t care about the difference. He seems more balanced than ever and made this January 28th in Utrecht one to remember for a long time.

Seen live on January 28th, 2017 @ TivoliVredenburg, Ronda, Utrecht

flaming-lips-tour-2017-wrm-1Setlist:

  1. Race for the Prize
  2. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
  3. There Should Be Unicorns
  4. Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung
  5. What Is the Light?
  6. The Observer
  7. How??
  8. Space Oddity (David Bowie cover)
  9. The Castle
  10. Are You a Hypnotist??
  11. The W.A.N.D.
  12. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
  13. [ENCORE] Do You Realize??

Line-up:

  • Wayne Coyne
  • Michael Ivins
  • Steven Drozd
  • Derek Brown
  • Jake Ingalls
  • Matt Duckworth
  • Nicholas Ley

Further surfing:

Wayne Coyne on Twitter

Review by Wander Meulemans // 300117

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