Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Flaming Lips - Zebedee's Yard, Hull, June 24th 2017 (LIVE REVIEW)



"...Buoyed by his rave reviews from The Flaming Lips’ headline gig on Glastonbury’s Park Stage the previous evening, extravagantly dressed frontman Wayne Coyne seems well up for a repeat here as he eggs on the packed crowd during the protracted start of opener ‘Race for the Prize’ before an explosion of light, tickertape and balloons has everyone gasping..."


In January the mantle of 2017 UK City of Culture landed on the doorstep of Kingston upon Hull, perhaps deservedly so if only for the fact that arguably the city’s most famous son is William Wilberforce. Naturally this bestowment kicked-off a whole calendar of music and arts events throughout the city; literally 365 days of stuff, including a couple of back-to-back gigs at 3,500 capacity Zebedee’s Yard, slap bang in the middle of the famed old town, a fitting setting for tonight’s quartet of bands.

Opening act, local legends Fonda 500 prove something of a revelation, dishing up 30 minutes of joyous Poundland SFA type madness, making one wonder firstly how I’ve never happened across them before in the 20 years they’ve been going, and secondly, why do these guys not have a record deal? Frontman Simon Stone, decked in his customary twin pompommed black woolly hat, gives the appearance of a hipster Mickey Mouse playing a keyboard looking like it was acquired during Tandy’s 1990 January sale. Nevertheless, this effervescent two-ball screwball helps drive a bunch of infectious grooves including ‘I like Stereo’ and ’Jenny#1’, even throwing in a bit of beat box for good measure. Next up, Manchester’s Dutch Uncles fare slightly less well, their admittedly stylish indie-pop, perhaps a little too polished for a largely non-committed Lips’ audience craving something a bit more gonzo.

Public Service Broadcasting seldom fail to deliver in the live arena, providing a glorious mix of sound and vision during tonight’s hour, constituting an ideal warm up gig ahead of the release of next month’s terrific new album ‘Every Valley’. Having already bagged a sneak preview of their latest release, I again find myself in the oddly privileged position of sole familiarity, most of the audience never having yet heard ‘People Will Always Need Coal’, ‘They Gave Me A Lamp’ and ‘All Out’, (reminding me of a similar instance at a Laura Marling gig earlier this year). However, fans of the band were also treated to a bunch of firm favourites including, furiously funky ‘Gagarin’, drumskin taut ‘The Other Side’ and closing number ‘Everest’.


Buoyed by his rave reviews from The Flaming Lips’ headline gig on Glastonbury’s Park Stage the previous evening, extravagantly dressed frontman Wayne Coyne seems well up for a repeat here as he eggs on the packed crowd during the protracted start of opener ‘Race for the Prize’ before an explosion of light, tickertape and balloons has everyone gasping. This is rock and roll theatre at its pyrotechnic best, a giant silver balloon reading ‘Fuck Yeah Hull’ hovering stage front before being joined by a trio of giant inflatable creatures for a splendidly surreal ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots'. Just when you think things can’t get any madder, ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ comes next, Mr Coyne donning a pair of rainbow coloured angel wings and proceeding to mingle with the hoi polloi sat astride one of the aforementioned mythical beasts, sending the batshit-o-meter deep into the red.


By now the toys are appearing thick and fast, it’s almost as if the venue’s Magic Roundabout namesake is masterminding the stage effects, like the full-tilt vocoder on ‘The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song’, giant ‘Yeah’ and ‘No’ appearing on the screen behind in perfect time, the singer simultaneously swinging a giant silver blanket above his head. We marvel at the giant Jagger lips around his waist (hopefully Jagger's teeth look better than the ones on Coyne’s costume) on ‘W.A.N.D’, stood between two giant inflatable eyeballs. Most memorable of all however saw Coyne crowd surfing whilst cocooned within a giant plastic bubble emitting more light than the sun on ‘Space Oddity’ for me one of the best Bowie covers I’ve ever witnessed. At this point if I’d turned my head and saw Richard Dreyfuss and Francois Truffaut stood next to me, I wouldn’t have been the slightest bit surprised!

The dreamy ‘A Spoonful Weighs a Ton’ completes a sparkling main set with yet another confetti blizzard before a giant inflatable rainbow appears ahead of a brace for the encore, the Oklahoma frontman talking about performing the aforementioned Bowie cover, imploring all live bands to include one in their repertoire…..what a great idea! We then conclude with the gloriously ramshackle ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’, followed by a helping hand from all in attendance on their super anthem ‘Do You Realise??’

It will take me a week to get the unicorn shit off my shoes but hell it was so worth it.

Words - Mike Price