The Flaming Lips in Sydney: a celebration of life, colour and optimism

There’s a photograph somewhere on Instagram of Bloom Bobby Coyne sporting a very stylish Ziggy Stardust bib. You’d immediately know that having Wayne Coyne as your dad is probably going to be a lot of fun because this man sure knows how to throw a party!

Spending an evening with The Flaming Lips can certainly leave you feeling that life can be one big party, but not without a very emotional journey first.

The Flaming Lips sydney opera house the soft bulletin 20th anniversary tour
Photos: Prudence Upton

Descending on the Sydney Opera house like a psychedelic hurricane, The Flaming Lips proved The Soft Bulletin has lost none of its cheer.

Through the most perplexing juxtaposition of Coyne’s famously struggled vocal delivery, some of the prettiest melodies every written, the musicianship of Steve Drozd, enough balloons and streamers to satisfy 10,000 (middle-aged) kids and the band’s insistence that this is a celebration, we get an unimaginable emotional punch in the guts track after track. Their cover of True Love Will Find You In The End was particularly moving.

Of course with the recent passing of Daniel Johnston the music world was reminded once again that life isn’t all fun, and in fact the arts are often littered with personal struggle and mental illness. The Flaming Lips have always done an incredible job at tugging at our heart strings and poignantly highlighting those so-obvious-once-you-hear-it but oh-so-hard-to-reach sweet spots, both musically and lyrically.

Twenty years on The Soft Bulletin, the seminal record that truly cemented the Flaming Lips as our generation’s psych rock gods, has lost none of its potency, none of its heart wrenching immediacy and none of its optimism. In fact it has aged so well that it’s fair to say the themes the record addresses are even more universally apparent than before.

The Opera House’s cleaning crew sure have their work cut for them but fuck it, it was worth it. Thank you for bringing one of the most important psychedelic records in its entirety to Sydney, Lips, and congrats on the little one Wayne and Katy, he’s a cute kid!