Adventures in Culture part 12: Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips, Zebedee's Yard, Hull.

Things I thought I’d never see in Hull…

A man with rainbow wings riding a unicorn through a crowd of 3,000 people.

…well. Last Saturday at Zebedee’s yard I did. And the best bit? I wasn’t surprised when it did happen. 

Yes. I saw the Flaming Lips live – and those sort of antics are just par for the course. The Oklahoma collective, fronted by the enigmatic Wayne Coyne, have been wowing audiences with their day-glo acid trip dynamics for over 30 years. 

And their debut in Hull didn’t disappoint: from the off, glitter cannons were fired into the crowd, people in giant inflatable animal costumes danced on the stage, Wayne ran out with a giant balloon message saying ‘FUCK YEAH HULL’ and for the third song, aptly named ‘There should be Unicorns’, he was paraded around the audience on a winged mythical beast.

Wayne Coyne. On a unicorn. In Hull. BELIEVE IT! (pic by Tim Drage)

Wayne Coyne. On a unicorn. In Hull. BELIEVE IT! (pic by Tim Drage)

As they’d played Glastonbury the night before, their set was a full on ‘festival crowd pleaser’ experience, pulling out all their big hitter tunes to a loud psychedelic backdrop. The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah song, Race for the Prize and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (part 1) all went past in a blur of colour, bangs and excitement.

The set was made even more magical by the inclusion of Bowie’s Space Oddity (a wonderful coincidence - from what I could tell, Coyne wasn't aware of Hull’s links to Bowie through the Spiders from Mars and Mick Ronson). Of course, they couldn’t just play the song. Wayne had to get in a giant inflatable zorb ball and run on top of the crowd whilst channeling his inner Bowie.

"For here I am sitting in a tin can" - channeling Bowie in a giant ball on top of the crowd.

"For here I am sitting in a tin can" - channeling Bowie in a giant ball on top of the crowd.

As the glitter settled and the final chords of the beautifully anthemic Do You Realize died away, I was left wondering if this kind of bizarre musical spectacle would grace my hometown again. From the look of delight on every face leaving the arena, we bloody hope it will! Come back soon, Wayne! And bring more of your mad musical friends with you.

Where to next?

I've got a free couple of month in Yorkshire! Tweet me your suggestions @stephenrich or comment below. I should be free...

Until next time, keep it freaky.

#IAMRICH