Saturday, November 26, 2011

Live Review: THE FLAMING LIPS, POND

The Palace Theatre

Looking, and sounding like five guys who met in the Wolfmother audition queue (but actually being three quarters of Tame Impala), Pond seem at home spread across the lengthy Palace stage; no mean feat for a band used to playing Perth warehouse parties. In front of a wall of amps, their vintage guitars, crusading riffs, copious bouncing hair and indistinct impassioned wailing is, as with many recently celebrated Australian bands, totally derivative and incredibly well executed. Playing like they're headlining, songs like You Broke My Cool allow singer Nick Allbrook to wander the stage, occasionally flinging his arms out as if to say 'this is it! How good' A version of Tears of a Clown that's more Caligula than Smoky Robinson allows for some deft twin guitar action, and the audience (and The Flaming Lips) are suitably impressed.

Minutes later Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne crosses the stage to cheers as he helps roadies and techs assemble equipment, all wrapped in white tape, heavily stickered and customized. Checking the instruments, inflatable space bubble, dry ice, massive screens and tiny video cameras and effects would, ordinarily, be akin to a magician giving away tricks, but the Lips' sleeve is full of so many more that it only adds to the excitement.

Coyne's pre-show disclaimer includes an apology for their short set at Harvest due to: ’festival timing and a dilemma with trains and buses. Tonight, we have no limits, we will play longer and better and louder.’ True to form, the first five minutes include the birth-through-psychedelic-supernova-vagina entrance, Coyne striding over the crowd in his space bubble, massive balloons, exploding confetti cannons, swathes of jet-powered dry ice, two teams of leggy dancers, air raid megaphone sirens and the firing of numerous streamer launchers. All the distractions are dispatched with in an awe-inspiring burst of props and massive bass riffs, which begs the question ‘how are they going to top this?’ The answer; songs. Straight up we get She Don’t Use Jelly before being exhorted, as we are between every song, to get noisy, and Coyne needs all the help he can get, with his voice parched and frail from overuse, so we provide an admirable choir for Jelly and throughout the ensuing, brilliant The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song. Coyne's backless acoustic guitar exists just as much to burst massive balloons of confetti as to make music. TV On the Radio stand to the side of the audience with Pond with smiles as broad as ours as Stephen Drozd plays the iPhone for Is David Bowie Dying, which sounds huge, before we’re lead through a long, drawn-out version of Yoshimi, even more poignant for being played among the burst balloons and scattered detritus of happier songs. See the Leaves sees Coyne don giant hands that shoot lasers at disco balls, which is a perfect introduction to Drug Chart. We call The Lips back for a blinding encore of Race For the Prize and a magnificent hymnal Do You Realize, a pair of modern classics that conclude one of the most remarkable gigs of the year.

2 comments:

  1. They played Drug Chart, not Watching the Planets...

    ReplyDelete