NOT that The Flaming Lips need an excuse for a celebration, but it’s Thursday in Edinburgh so why not mark the 20th anniversary of The Soft Bulletin, the breakthrough album when this Oklahoma outfit fully embraced their pop instincts and began to develop their psychedelic spectacular of a live show.
The Flaming Lips, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
Flanked by six fellow travellers including double drummer action, our cosmic conductor Wayne Coyne, second only to Robert Smith in the mad goth professor stakes, was concerned the album was a bit of downer. “Don’t go quiet in the quiet bits,” he beseeched an audience giddy with anticipation.
A Flaming Lips show always starts with a bang and The Soft Bulletin opens with Race for the Prize, one of the most euphoric tunes in modern pop music, which exploded in a riot of colour and confetti, and culminated in Coyne brandishing a balloon sculpture of the words “F*** Yeah Edinburgh” which then made its way over the heads of the crowd before being disassembled for souvenirs.
Coyne has an astute perspective on celebrating the inherent wonder of the universe amid the pain of life, which played out as one of the most bizarre but joyful spectacles witnessed in this or any other concert hall as a delightful succession of beautifully bonkers set-pieces involving gongs, mirrorballs, inflatable pink robots, zorbing across the heads of the crowd and riding a rainbow unicorn through the audience – all of which somehow complemented rather than detracted from the accompanying sonic smorgasbord of psychedelic whimsy, ecstatic melancholy, baroque pop, bittersweet ballads and wigged-out instrumentals.