Monday, 1 March 2010

569 THE FLAMING LIPS, Bob Mould, London Astoria, Wednesday 10 July 2002

Barely the end of the first week back in Blighty, and we're on the gig trail again! I travelled up with friends, parking at Shepherd's Bush and tubing into town, queuing up to get into this sell-out show at 8.15. By then we'd totally missed first band Goldrush, but bumped into Rachel (in London on business today) on the already-heaving floor, stage left, with a good view for an intriguing (for us) opener!

Bob Mould, one of my all-time guitar heroes, returned to the scene of his triumphant 1989 "Workbook" tour show (gig 146 for me, Pop Kids!), on the back of possibly his worst ever recorded output, "Modulate", a mish-mash of electronics and tape loops, with Bob's distinctive vocal howl and sheet-metal guitar buried so deep in the mix as to be indistinguishable. We honestly didn't know what to expect from this show! However, Bob came on, possibly 50 pounds lighter than the "Last Dog And Pony Tour" monolith, and "treated" us to a set initially drawn from this album. Thankfully, the voice was much more prominent than on the record, and we had backing films for each track, invariably featuring some homo-eroticism from Big Gay Bob, to distract us from the relatively sub-standard material. Thankfully, he threw us a bone towards the end, climaxing the set with Husker Du's "Makes No Sense At All" (which he could play backwards on a glockenspiel and it'd still be addictively immense) and "Celebrated Summer", and the titanic Sugar number "Man On The Moon" to round off an uneven but occasionally brilliant set.

Once again, Lips mainman Wayne Coyne joined the roadies setting up the stage for the Lips' performance, although he didn't need to get the spanner out this time, as 3 giant mirror balls had replaced the gong! The Lips' entrance, at 9.15 to an uncomfortably packed venue, really got Rachel excited, as Coyne came onstage accompanied by 2 giant pink rabbits! They quickly divested the rabbit headgear to reveal fellow Lips Stephen Drozd and Michael Ivins, and Drozd's frantic acoustic guitar sawing heralded the anthemic new number "Do You Realise", a soaring, life-affirming track so feelgood-making, that you fail to, erm, realise, that it's all about death! D'oh!

Coyne expounded his gig theory to us, citing a Husker Du gig he'd attended, expecting to hear "New Day Rising" and hearing all new numbers instead, then proceeded to play a mix of familiar numbers from the out-there psychedelic masterpiece "The Soft Bulletin", and the more unfamiliar, ambient and electronically experimental material from "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots". An unnecessary cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head", which admittedly they transformed into a death dirge, was followed by my personal set highlight, a brilliantly hooky "She Don't Use Jelly". An earlier "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate", which was accompanied by a monkey hand puppet, also hit the spot, as did the touching closer "Waiting For A Superman". After that, we didn't need an encore, but got a couple - a short unfamiliar song requiring audience participation, and an overlong "What Is The Light", proving you can get too much of a good thing. No encore and no Kylie, and this gig would have been just about perfect!

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