The Flaming Lips at Barrowlands, 15/8/17

Modern life is rubbish; you get a job, usually underpaid, you waste 30 or 40 years (at minimum) doing mindless laborious tasks, then you retire (depending on your generation and who’s in power politics wise at the time) and then eventually you and everyone you know, someday, will die.

Without the contrast provided by the above excerpt it’s hard to write about how much joy The Flaming Lips can bring to a show.

The band is probably best known for their ridiculous stage production, having seen them in the past I thought I knew what to expect.

I was still blown away, one of my fondest moments in life will be the explosion of confetti and balloons as the band kicks into ‘Race for The Prize’.

During the band’s latest single ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ Wayne Coyne rides a unicorn into the crowd covered in lights; it’s nice to see Scotland’s beloved national animal gets an outing at the show.

Coyne begins ‘Space Oddity’ by stepping into his giant bubble, and walking above the crowd, towards the back of the crowd where he sings the chorus to a cheering crowd.

It’s a poignant moment and for once doesn’t feel like a gimmick – it’s a song that perfectly encapsulates the band and Bowie’s lasting influence on music as a whole; it’s hard to imagine The Flaming Lips existing without his impression left on the world.

After a hit filled set the band leave the stage having given us a rousing performance of ‘Spoonful Weighs a Ton’.

The word “love” echoes around the ballroom and flashes on the back of the stage lighting rig for a few moments before they return to the stage.

There’s a knack to having an encore, some bands blow it by playing something that just doesn’t leave the room with a vibe; The Flaming Lips are not one of these bands, they treat us with a hushed performance of ‘Waitin’ For Superman’ that shrinks the room and makes it feel like it’s just you and the band.

They close out the set with ‘Do You Realize?’, the whole room sings along and I can see a few people close to tears.

It’s a complex song, or maybe it’s not, it’s just incredibly truthful.

We really are just spinning in space, waiting while life passes us by at a brisk pace and it’s true everyone you know someday will die, but that’s the catch with The Flaming Lips, they’re attitude is infectious they can make even those blunt statements seem uplifting.

My friend tells me it’s the song he wants played at his funeral, I can completely understand and I get the feeling pretty much everyone else here would as well.

The band might not sell a lot of albums, but they’ve probably put a reasonably good claim in for cornering the funeral song market for at least a few age demographics.

Words: Phil Allen

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