Waiting for Superman? Will Wayne Coyne do instead?
Never mind the fact that due to late licensing, Fatboy Slim was playing until 2am, the Flaming Lips turned in a headline set on the first night of the Electric Picnic Festival.
A Flaming Lips show is always more of a spectacle than a straightforward gig and the reliance on hits and covers was a concession to the mixed audience. The rest though was pure showmanship, all brought by Wayne Coyne. Opening the show by walking across the crowd in a huge bubble is an opening most acts would find hard to beat, yet it seemed just part of the Flaming Lips normal show.
A cover of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which has been featured on a Queen tribute album, allowed the crowd to get involved in a spot of karaoke. For diehard fans of the group, it may have been hard to suffer such a turgid sing along but the majority of the crowd roared and sang their approval.
Another impromptu cover soon followed with Kraftwerk's 'Radioactivity.' This was in reference to the ludicrous scheduling which saw the Lips and Kraftwek clash. This song went a small way to appeasing fans but it was a shame that one great act would be missed out.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Flaming Lips stageshow, it's a magical uplifting event with confetti, balloons and animal costumes complimenting the hope-filled songs. At events like this, the sound quality is more about the volume and reaching as many people as possible. Thankfully, some of the more subtle sounds from the band didn't suffer as acoustic guitars and percussion sounded as clear as the drums and bass. As always, the vocals cut through the rest of the instrumentation and encouraged the crowd to sing along.
To make amends to genuine Flaming Lips fans, the end of the set featured two cult classics. 'Lightning Strikes The Postman' was at times inaudible as Waybe barked the lyrics through a megaphone but the music and the smoke that engulfed the stage came to the fore and bemused and delighted the audience.
Karaoke fans were again pleased as 'She Don't Use Jelly' was extended beyond its usual length and given a call and response style finish.
The final song of the evening was a cover and in stark contrast to the previous covers, was a lot darker in tone and had a more serious message. Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' was dedicated to the usual suspects in Bush and Blair as The Flaming Lips show they aren't afraid to use the dark to highlight their positive upbeat tones.
All in all, it was a set that tried to appeal to fans and newcomers alike and it would be churlish to criticise the band for this approach. It may not have been the best gig to witness the Flaming Lips but a show by them is still like no other bands.