It’s certainly a good indication that a show is going to be something a little bit special when an Astrophysicist on the main stage radios his mate in a control room somewhere to move a 250-foot dish to “target location”. And this is something that the Lovell Radio Telescope does gracefully and majestically (as befitting its status as – to my knowledge – the only Grade 1 Listed Building on wheels), after spending most of the day looking at Pulsars. And we know that because Dr Tim O’Brien, the avuncular and cheerful Astrophysicist as mentioned above, told us so. And then played us a few pulsar sounds, which we all clapped along to and generally acted in a very silly panto fashion, providing boos, cheers and an impromptu chant of “Science! Science! Science!” which happily reappeared throughout most of the rest of the day. Some (mostly female) of the crowd seemed a bit disappointed that the much-rumoured appearance of Professor Brian “Things Can Only Get” Cox on the British Sea Power keys, but Dr Tim had the crowd enthralled and animated.
And once the dish was in place, then the main event could begin. And what an event it was. I have never been to a Flaming Lips gig before, but I had heard bits and bobs from friends. They weren’t lying. In fact, they seemed to have understated it somewhat.
It should also be said that playing next to one of science and engineering’s absolute marvels had quite the effect on the band also, with much reference made to it throughout the night, the offer of coming back next year (to be honest, there’s nobody else I can think could do the place justice in terms of spectacle and spirit) and a quiet downtime towards the end of the set where they turned off the stagelights for a presentation on the dish itself, pretty much about how brilliant it is. Seeing a 1.3 acre image of the moon appear suddenly is something that I will carry around forever.
But enough of this wittering. There’s no words in my lexicon that can convey the spectacle. So have a look at the pretty pictures instead.
Add to this some utterly beautiful weather, an onstage (and thankfully accepted) marriage proposal and a general cheerfully awed vibe throughout, it’s certainly a show that’ll last long and happily in the memory. Brilliant, and hopefully these transmissions will be a regular occurrence – providing they sort the car parking out (2 hours to get out of there!)