Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Review of The Flaming Lips at the Roundhouse in London on May 27, 2013
What the heck did we do to deserve that?
Forget Yoshimi, the evil robots have definitely won. Gone are the dancing animals, the space bubble, the balloons and the feeling that it's good to be alive. Instead we got a retina-searing light show and ninety minutes of nihilistic, ear-numbing motorway pile-ups.
Even Do You Realize?, that carpe diem band anthem, was turned into a funereal dirge. But at least that had a recognisable tune. Most of the set was was made up of the soul-crushingly desperate soundtrack to a heroin overdose that is their unlistenable new album, The Terror.
Wayne's signature white, fake-blood-spattered suit has been replaced by a blue satin number, his confetti gun swapped for a handheld light beam that he used to sporadically machine-gun the muttering Roundhouse crowd from his podium of light. His microphone-cam of smiles replaced by a weird baby doll he cuddled during the opening numbers.
Unsurprisingly, the industrial-strength strobe lighting proved too much for one fan 50 minutes in. The show was halted by Wayne for ten minutes while medics ushered out the victim of what sounded like an epileptic fit.
"Yeah - that happens. Our lights are fuckin' intense. But if you feel you're starting to panic, here's the thing - just don't look at them," advised Wayne. Yeah, cheers for that.
Two tracks after the hiatus, one of them a memorable version of Bowie's Heroes which was bizarrely and worryingly the highlight of the night, and Wayne nipped backstage to check on his stricken fan. "She's alright!" he reported to the remaining battle-scarred crowd. Having a great time like the rest of us.
Wayne - instead of trying to frazzle our brains why not play us some of your majestic, joyous songs? Not the two melody-free buzz-guitar feedback fests that should have been left safely in 1996, but the ones the couples in the plastic Hawaiian garlands had come to hear - tunes from Yoshimi and The Soft Bulletin, Tangerine. We did get a grudging, pared-down version of Race For The Prize - usually a triumphant opener - but even that felt like the race had been well and truly lost. Swap those garlands for a noose.
Then at the end of the night Wayne stood near the exit and punched every one of us in the face on the way out. Well, he may as well have done.