The Flaming Lips
Having seen Midlake a week earlier at the ULU and found them disappointing, simply because the sound quality was very poor, I luckily decided to get to this gig at the Hammersmith Apollo early - and it turned out that Midlake would also be supporting the Flaming Lips. Seeing them again at the Apollo was so encouraging - you could really appreciate Tim Smith's voice and their nostalgic sound, which really resonated across the room. Sadly, no one had a clue who they were. Van Occupanther's fantastic songs like Roscoe, and Head Home came and went without any fuss, unlike at ULU - where the crowd clearly adored them, singing along to every word. It was sad; a great band like Midlake can really appeal to a wider audience, and even though the sound quality was better at the Apollo, the uninformed crowd wasn't quiet sure how to receive them. They had driven all the way from Paris especially for the show, and afterwards had to drive back to Lille to perform another gig the next day. Let's hope they had more success across the channel.
I had heard the Flaming Lips really put on a show - a friend once saw them live where they gave out mini radios for everyone. A local radio station would be broadcasting a song live, and when that song was performed everyone had to switch on their radio so they could hear it in stereo. Back at the Apollo, balloons were hovering above our heads as the crowd diligently played 'keepy upy' with them. The band came on stage accompanied by mass eruptions of cheering, shouting, confetti, more giant green balloons, and mirror balls - 3 mirror balls.
Opening the set with The Soft Bulletin's hit single Race For The Prize, Wayne Coyne got into his translucent giant balloon and walked across the crowd. My god, it was friggin amazing. As the show moved on the balloons really began to irritate, and you soon noticed popping sounds, as they were very quickly eliminated. More confetti was fired into the crowd, with the never-ending audience sing-a-long lasting from start finish - ending with Bohemian Rhapsody - Flaming Lips style.
Ever-articulate circus leader Wayne Coyne marshalled proceedings, first encouraging everyone to celebrate the recent mid-term defeat of George Bush's Republican Party, then apologising and praising how wonderful a crowd we were - how he has subjected us to all this confetti and balloons, and singing along to surreal lyrics - yet we didn't boo him once. He went down on his knees and thanked us all, watched on by a crowd of Santas on the right and green aliens on the left, holding touch lights. The rest of the band was dressed in super hero outfits. I can't think of another band that has put so much effort into making sure they entertained us.