The Flaming Lips brought their brilliant, passionate and visually stunning show to Salt Lake City on September 17, 2011, near the end of their In Our Bodies Out of Our Heads 2011 tour. Reviewing a show is always subjective but this show was off the chart, seriously it may well have been the most amazing show I have ever seen, the energy was so intense and beautiful. And I make this statement with careful consideration of the man, many great shows I have seen including U2, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, R.E.M., Dave Matthews, and on and on. Wayne Coyne the leader of the band is a genius, and so deeply genuine, that he draws you in quickly and then holds you and your sensory hostage for the duration of the show, it was like watching a 5 year old on stage, sheer joy, love and exuberance while doing something you were made to do, make music and perform.
It is hard to explain why this band is so good, especially live, how do you explain a vibe that imprints a smile so hard on your face that even the next day you can’t get rid of it. Wayne’s enthusiasm is so contagious; he hits the first song running and leaping and never slows down for second, except for brief wise discourses in life, love and music between songs. I read a review by a disgruntled fan that talked about Wayne’s voice not being what it used to be, I let that review nearly keep me from going to this show, I cannot imagine what a mistake that would have been. It makes no difference if your voice can still hit every note the same way you did when you were in your twenties when your adoring fans are singing every word at the top of their lungs. The Flaming Lips owned this venue and the crowd this evening by playing intensely from their hearts and then adding a healthy dose of visual stimuli. Sure the show takes the use of smoke machines, portable video cameras, lasers and confetti to the tsunami level but this is 2011 . I got a kick out the warning signs that were posted everywhere warning patrons about the strong lighting and strobes used during the performance, Wayne even came out before the show and personally warned people about the lights but went on to say in a great deadpan delivery “But the good news is there is a very easy remedy… just don’t look at the lights”.
As I write this review I can hardly talk from cheering so much, I just can’t stop grinning when I think about how Wayne would yell “Come on you motherfuckers” whenever there was a lull in the intensity and instantly the entire venue would comply and erupt in cascading cheers that rose until it was back to the default deafening roar.
On several occasions mascot like beings would make unscripted entrances to the show, each would crowd surf to the front of the stage for a hug, first there was the huge bunny, then a dog and then a young woman. Wayne would stop the show and carefully help them onto the stage, then give them a big long hug and then they would leave the same way they came in, a little stage dive back into the crowd and off they would go. Wayne explained that one of the greatest things about music is how it can help someone who is struggling with life’s hard times to laugh, love and relax for a while and for several hours on this Saturday night.
If you ever have a chance to see the Flaming Lips live do it, you will not be disappointed, you will be amazed, gratified, uplifted, thrilled and romanced back into a deep and profound love for live music. And when Wayne looks at you with a huge smile on his face and implores you to cheer by saying “Come on you motherfuckers”, you will comply, you will cheer, you will dance and you will, for once in your life be fully present in the now. For this is Wayne’s blessing to you and you will receive it motherfucker!
Photos by Lewis Cooper