Ok, I know, I’ve been obsessing on The Flaming Lips here this past week, and I promise I’ll move on to different topics soon, but there’s just no way that I can not reflect on last night’s concert, a concert that was arguably the greatest show I’ve ever seen.
Saturday, as Bellinghamsters will recall, was an absolutely stunning bonus summer day, and the only reason I didn’t totally enjoy it was because there was rain in the forecast for Sunday, when I was due to attend the Lips show, outdoors in Vancouver’s Malkin Bowl Amphitheater. I’d been looking forward to the concert for months, and there I was on Saturday, in the midst of a gorgeous sunny day, trying to picture standing in a muddy field in the pouring rain.
And when I awoke on Sunday it seemed my worst fears had manifested. It rained non-stop all morning.
However, by noon the rain stopped, and while the skies didn’t clear, there were occasional, fleeting sunbreaks, and as my friends and I set out northward towards the border I was starting to be optimistic.
We stopped for food and drink at a restaurant right on the water near the convention center, dined outside, and the excitement of the impending show grew as we enjoyed a lovely meal in a lovely setting.
From the restaurant, we walked around the seawall for a few minutes before heading into the interior of Stanley Park towards the venue. I have to admit that I was disappointed when I first set eyes on Malkin Bowl. It seemed incredibly small and the field was muddy and it was hard to imagine the hugeness of a Flaming Lips show in such a small place. Most of the time I prefer a smaller, more intimate setting for live music, but the Lips just aren’t that kind of band.
Once we settled in at the pub adjacent to the amphitheater, I started to really enjoy the setting, nestled amongst towering firs and cedars and spruce, it was tremendously peaceful.
As for the show, words inevitably fail to capture the totality of the experience, and it seems like everything I think of is cliché. Yet, there’s a fine line between cliché and quintessence, and it seems to me that the Flaming Lips strive to create the quintessential psychedelic experience for the audience.
The concert was a lush audio and visual experience, and I enjoyed every single minute of it. The song selection was great, the band was in top form, and Wayne, in particular, was every bit the warm, wacky mad genius he’s known to be. He was characteristically talkative throughout the show, and when he’d say, “Come on, come on, come one, Vancouver!” you really had the sense that he really needs to know that the audience is having the best possible time they could have, and that if he sensed that they weren’t he couldn’t go on.
At the end of the show, as many were making their way towards the exit, a small, dedicated group of fans remained in front of the stage, hoping for one more encore. Suddenly, Wayne came out to address the crowd, pointing out that the venue prohibited music after 10pm, and he very sincerely apologized and expressed his hope that everyone could hold on to what they liked about the show and not let the understandable disappointment overshadow the rest of the evening.
It certainly didn’t overshadow anything for me!
Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, there’s actually a handful of clips from last night’s show, and fortunately someone posted my favorite song of the evening: