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 This here giraffe - Miscellaneous Debris – Archive

This here giraffe

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

14 Nov 2006

First, a comment about seating. There’s nothing more depressing than getting nosebleed seats to a great concert. The Flaming Lips are in town the same day I am and there are no tickets available for the stalls with the crowd, only up in the dress circle. And not any seats in the dress circle – no, I got tickets for row Z. Yes, that’s right. Up in the back where the air is thin and the action is far, far away.

No matter. I simply hung out in the front of the circle during the warmup act, waited until the show started, found seats left unoccupied and commandeered them – voila, instant row C seats for me.


Speaking of the warm-up band, Midlakes. They had a song that sounded like The Flaming Lips, a song that sounded like The Decemberists and a few songs that didn’t sound like too much at all. It’s always a bad sign when your background video art – a scene from Les Miserables, an animated bit and what appeared to be a segment from a depressing black and white Soviet epic – are more interesting than the band itself. Except for their final track (which rocked) they had a severe lack of enthusiasm. You could see it when the Lips’ keyboard player joined them on the drums for one song – he singlehandedly lifted up their whole act.

In short, try not to get upstaged by your own video art.


The venue was wonderful, except for being stuck in the circle. The Hammersmith Apollo, formerly the Hammersmith Odeon. Everyone who is everyone performed here, from Iggy Pop to Metallica, and especially Bowie’s famous 1972 Ziggy Stardust farewell concert immortalized in Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture.


The Flaming Lips are a fantastic live band. There – got that out of the way. They’re fantastic, however, in a completely different way than The Dresden Dolls are fantastic, or Greg Dulli and The Twilight  Singers are. For The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli’s charisma is the deciding factor. He plays. He sings. You listen to him. He IS the show. With the Dresden Dolls, watching Brian and Amanda play is a joy in itself, and the theatrical antics around them enhance the experience.

The Flaming Lips, however, simply go all out with the theatrics, and the fact that it’s their goddamn stage and they can do whatever the hell they like.

So there are balloons – small ones that were handed at the door, and big ones that they threw onto the crowd later. And they bounce around, even up to the circle. Dozens of big balloons, constantly in the air for over 3 hours.

We have confetti cannons blasting everywhere, and a dozen Santas and a dozen martians dancing around the stage. We have stage hands dressed as Thor and The Thing and Captain American throwing the balloons back out to the stage.

We have a fancy-dress announcer calling them on stage in rhymes, and a Wonder Woman photographer bouncing around. A microphone-mounted camera shows Wayne Coyne’s nose hairs as he waves about a scary nun puppet, leading us all in a sing-along version of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

When we segue to the kung-fu solos of Yoshimi pt. II the band continue their sonic assaults while Coyne runs around the stage, spinning glowing ropes, using smoke machines like machine guns and surfing the crowd from the confines of a huge plastic bubble.

This goes on – bizarre video art to constant anti-Bush rhetoric, bassist dressed in a skeleton suit and green lasers shooting through the smoke-filled hall. And it all ends with a rather bizarre karaoke rendition of Bohemian Raphsody, with the lyrics on screen interspersed with a naked sunbather accidently coating herself with wasabi paste instead of sunscreen.

Two songs I would have loved to hear but which weren’t played were This Here Giraffe and Bad Days, but I got a triple helping of Yoshimi with both parts of Yoshimi itself, Fight Test and the pre-encore finale of Do You Realize?, one of their finest. A couple of songs off Mystics and She Don’t Use Jelly to keep the old-time fans happy.

All in all, a wonderful show. The only shame was that I couldn’t be down where the action was, where the confetti and balloons covered all.

Oh, well. Next time.

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