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Concert Reviews:
Flaming Lips fire up at the Fillmore

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014

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DETROIT -- When Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne declares that "it's gonna be the greatest (expletive) show there can be" -- as he did at the start of the group's concert Thursday night, June 12, at the Fillmore Detroit -- it's not something to be taken lightly.

The psychedelic rock troupe, after all, knows something about putting on the greatest show on Earth, rock 'n' roll style, and Thursday at the Fillmore was no exception. The sextet (and sometimes septet) filled its 14-song, hour-and-45-minute set with it's usual theatrical adventures, from strobe-heavy lighting exhibitions to opulent rear-screen projects, a parade of giant creatures (aliens, mushrooms, rainbows, shining and smiling suns). Gales of confetti flew over the Fillmore crowd, while Coyne -- part singer, part carnival barker -- tossed handfuls of glitter at regular intervals.

It was a scaled-down but still dazzling brand of the kind of spectacle associated with Pink Floyd, with a bit of 70s Jethro Tull thrown in -- so sincerely over-the-top that it never leapt the thin line between hip and kitschy. And the Fillmore crowd ate it up; Coyne commented several times on how loud it was, in a way that didn't sound like it was something he says to all the cities the Lips visit.

Of course, it would all be empty showmanship if the music didn't measure up, but that was no concern on Thursday. The Lips have covered a lot of ground during their 28 years of recording, and the show demonstrated an admirable diversity from richly arranged epics such as "The Abandoned Hospital Ship," "In the Morning of the Magicians" and "Silver Trembling Hands" to more readily accessible favories like "She Don't Use Jelly," "Race For the Prize," "Do You Realize??" and a muscular stomp through "The W.A.N.D." The group flowed easily between fragile melodies and aggressive bombast, and rightly focusing on its best-selling albums -- "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" -- while carefully sampling from the rest of its catalog.

The Lips offered a nod to the near future, too, with its fuzzed-out remake of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," part of a multi-artist re-do of "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band." Miley Cyrus, who's part of the recorded version of the song, wasn't there, but the audacious, unapologetic spirit that would pair her with the Lips in the first place was evident throughout the show and made for nothing less than a fabulously entertaining evening.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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