IS science the new rock and roll?
From the chants of “science, science” from the 5,000-strong crowd, the cheers and boos that accompanied Dr Tim O’Brien’s tales of trying to prove Einstein wrong and the cooing as the Lovell space telescope started to turn on its axis in order that it could be used as a projector screen, the crowd at Jodrell Bank were almost as excited about physics as they were about the Flaming Lips . . . almost.
Main support acts Ok Go and British Sea Power (high point the on-stage bear versus robot fight) were tasty hors d’oevres, but there was no doubt from the cheers when Wayne Coyne ambled on stage to warn about strobe lighting that the Flaming Lips were very much the dish of the day — with the possible exception of the man who “drove” the telescope.
From the off, it was clear the band’s lush psychedelic pop was perfectly suited to this quirky venue.
High points included Race For The Prize, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song — for a band known for their off-the-wall space rock it’s always a pleasant surprise to remember just how many genuine anthems they have.
Video projections on stage and on to the face of the telescope, lasers, confetti, balloons and Coyne’s famous space bubble (how apt) all added to the fun, with science providing its natural special effect in the form of a spectacular sunset.
As climaxes go, an on-stage proposal from a member of the audience (the “science, science” chants were briefly replaced by “Rob! Rob!” as the romantic gent went down on one knee) followed by a gloriously loose rendition of Do You Realize?? is going to be hard to beat — justifying the Flaming Lips’ place on all those “50 bands to see before you die” lists.
Despite the wonderful show from the bands and the brilliant science, there were glitches: not enough bins; two hour-long queues for food, and a parking situation that was slow on the way and a disgrace on the way out.
It was past 1am when we got off the field, feeling considerably deflated.
So would I recommend watching the Flaming Lips live? Absolutely.
Would I recommend future Live at Jodrell Bank events? I couldn’t as yet give that one a positive answer.