The Flaming Lips, The Troxy, London

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The Independent Culture

Even if you're not freaked out, you'll act like you are and that will fill the gap in between," announces Wayne Coyne, after jumping into the crowd in a giant space bubble, which its members gleefully consent to tossing him about in. As the opening of "Race for the Prize" kicks in, Coyne topples off the edge of the stage, in unison with an avalanche of yellow and orange balloons and confetti jet streams, to be returned by fans with cheers only a cult figure receives.

Shortly before this, Coyne disturbs the hubbub in a sea of moustaches to announce that he will appear in two minutes, while roadies in co-ordinated orange boiler suits attend to the stage production. Each band member appears, unbelievably, from the semi-circle light show behind, out of an enlarged, pulsating vagina. It is this kind of surreal detail that pervades the whole show.

The Troxy is a venue apt for such escapades: it's an old cinema, converted for the purposes, but the experience of the Lips is beyond cinematic licence. This film is about a psychedelic rock circus, using concepts and colour over skilfully mastered sounds, matching the tone of their latest album, Embryonic. Surreal Bond girls appear on screen interspersed with a microphone camera, distorting Coyne's mouth into incomprehensible shapes.

"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" features a mock ring of fire in multi-coloured lights and it and "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" receive exorbitant audience choruses. At each opportunity the crowd are ready to praise the finest thing that came out of Oklahoma in the last three decades.

Each song is nuanced with its own theatrical concept design: during "Silver Trembling Hands", Coyne sits on the shoulders of what appears to be a giant bear; "Vein of Stars" sees an eerie uplifting green laser light show finish; and dancing space bunny men and girls in white suits support show from start to finish. Before the finale, "Do You Realise?", Coyne incites the audience to "Give all your energy to peace..." while a strobe and laser show of euphoric quality blends into the track.

Technically, the show is a feat of perfect production engineering, resulting in a carnival for the senses – for die-hard fans, this is the perfect night. If you didn't like the Lips before, you would leave admiring their commitment to a fantastically original stage show.

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