Flaming Lips back at the Burt Psychedelic return after nearly a decade full of energy and excitement

Do you realize it's been almost eight years since Flaming Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne crawled into a giant, inflatable sphere and rolled over the hands, arms, shoulders and heads of the crowd at the Burton Cummings Theatre?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2018 (1619 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Do you realize it’s been almost eight years since Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne crawled into a giant, inflatable sphere and rolled over the hands, arms, shoulders and heads of the crowd at the Burton Cummings Theatre?

For those who weren’t there, check out the footage on YouTube. For those who were, you’ll never forget it. It was, after all, one of the most memorable moments in the venerable concert venue’s recent history.

On Sunday, Coyne and company returned to the Burt, with three semi-trailer trucks filled with equipment to create an evening’s worth of post-psychedelic mayhem and cool tunes.

PHOTOS BY JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips’ extravagant live show made its way to the Burton Cummings Theatre on Sunday night. The show was full of glitz and glamour, featuring songs such as Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.

All that equipment provided for a sensory overload for the audience. Not only was there the music, but giant balloons, confetti and fog were fired into the crowd and strings of cables over the stage created a light show that would be impressive in a big hockey arena but was dazzling in the steep, 1,600-seat theatre.

A five-metre inflated pink robot dwarfed Coyne and the other six members of the band.

And Coyne, who wore a bright red suit with a leather shoulder harness and an eyepatch, had no shortage of props to interact with. Near the beginning, when the Lips played Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a five-metre inflated pink robot was unfurled, which dwarfed Coyne and the other six members of the band. Later, Coyne donned a giant pair of papier-mâché hands fitted with lasers — Dr. Evil would approve — and sat upon a unicorn, which had a rainbow of lights, that was carefully wheeled around the stage by roadies.

The Lips, who got their start in Oklahoma City. have been performing for over 30 years, and have carved out careers entertaining those who can’t get enough of the stoner rock of Pink Floyd and the art-rock of David Bowie. They have had only minor success on the pop charts to keep the bank accounts churning. Instead, it’s their creativity — musical and theatrical — that has enraptured a devoted corps of fans around the world. Perhaps only Tom Waits has delved into such levels of avant-garde at concerts, and he hasn’t toured in a decade.

Frontman Wayne Coyne donned a giant pair of papier-mâché hands fitted with lasers.

On Sunday the Lips offered many of their fan favourites, from Yoshimi, to the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song. They also performed a couple of new ones, from their oddly titled 2017 album Oczy Mlody: The Castle and There Should be Unicorns.

Throughout the evening, Coyne urged the crowd to make more noise, which they did every time they were prompted.

“The greatest compliment you can give to the Flaming Lips is to go crazy no matter what,” Coyne told the crowd.

At first, it appeared that the inflatable sphere didn’t make this tour, but about an hour into the concert, Coyne climbed in while the band played Bowie’s greatest hit, Space Oddity, which suddenly gave Coyne’s giant bubble added relevance. He rolled his “tin can” onto the audience while singing Bowie’s famous plea, “Can you hear me Major Tom.” Coyne’s trademark bit earned the loudest cheers of the evening.

With giant balloons, confetti, rainbow lights and a unicorn, it was a sensory overload extravaganza for fans.

The Lips are huge Bowie fans and Coyne told the crowd that the band decided after the singer’s death the band to commit to playing a Bowie song every night of their tour, which they’ve stuck to. It’s a great tribute.

The song that put the Flaming Lips on the map — at least among the coolest of the cool rock fans — Do You Realize??, wound up a one-hour-and-55-minute show and included yet another inflatable, a giant rainbow.

Opening the evening was Winnipeg instrumental electronic rock group Mahogany Frog, who synthesizer-laden sound rocked out a 25-minute set. The band digs their synthesizers; the four of them switched back and forth between six different banks of keyboards that were jammed together on the front of the Burt stage like the last rounds of a Tetris video game. 

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @AlanDSmall

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Flaming Lips at the Burton Cummings Theatre Sunday, June 24, 2018.

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Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

Concert Review

Flaming Lips

Winnipeg International Jazz Festival

Sunday, June 24

Burton Cummings Theatre

★★★★ 1/2 stars out of five

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