Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I don't want the party to be over: Flaming Lips @ The Roundhouse, 21.05.13

The atmosphere was at the very same time geeky and jubilant, a mixed crowd of ages filled The Roundhouse in Camden as mirrored domes were brought out and piled up upon the stage and Wayne Coyne's tin foil-wrapped podium was wheeled into position.

It was certainly an unsuspecting crowd that had parted with cash in order to see their heroes or for newer converts to witness what others have so long talked about when it comes to a Flaming Lips live-show.

But this was a changed band and a number of circumstances could have led to this new incarnation of a long standing favourite.

The previous night's performance had been cancelled due to illness that had struck down the psychedic-rocker's usually flamboyant leader, and overnight news told of a devastating storm that had ripped through the band's home state of Oklahoma.

Coyne decreed that he felt 'a lot fucking better' as the sound check progressed into an impassioned speech about how wide-reaching disasters and the loss of lives put things into perspective, that silly rock shows really don't matter in the grand scheme of things, but they were here to put on a show regardless.

Another change of perspective came with the band's most recent album, The Terror, their least commercial offering in recent memory that felt as if all the doom, the doubt and the death that can be found bubbling under the surface of even their most upbeat songs had finally fought its way loose and manifested in droning soundscapes and extreme experimentation.

And it was this outlook that informed the tone of the gig, drawing heavily from the new album, any concessions to former releases were equally dark and mired in waves of glacial electronica and a sense of the morose.

Crowd pleasers and huge bouncing singalongs have gone the same way as fancy dress adorned acolytes and confetti cannons (though hopefully not forever), and the absurd sight of Wayne Coyne cradling a baby doll in his arms with tender care as strobing fills the gloom and dirgy psychedelia blasts from all around, just doesn't seem like the party that I came here for.

perhaps this is a turning point, or perhaps this is just a transitional moment that will pass, but when 'Do You Realize?' no longer sounds like a joyous celebration of our fleeting lives and the ticker tape that rains down is as black as the veil of death itself, it is clear that those gathered here have witnessed a new, altogether different chapter in the Flaming Lips live history.

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