The Flaming Lips

Soft Bulletin [Live at Red Rocks]

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Soft Bulletin [Live at Red Rocks] Review

by Heather Phares

On Soft Bulletin [Live at Red Rocks], the Flaming Lips bring together the open-air immediacy of an outdoor rock concert and the majesty of an orchestra -- two things rarely heard together on the average live album. Capturing the band's performance of their landmark 1999 album at the famed Morrison, Colorado amphitheater in 2016, the album never sounds too mannered or too raw. On songs such as "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton," heavy bass and guitar, pedal steel, strings and Wayne Coyne's fragile vocals all hold their own and blend together organically; considering that this is the first time the Flaming Lips recorded with a full orchestra, it's an even more impressive feat. The band's collaboration with the Colorado Symphony, a 57-person chorus, and conductor André de Ridder often reaches dazzling heights, particularly on the dynamic psych-rock of "Gash" and "The Spiderbite Song," which translates every bit of wonder in the studio version to the Red Rocks stage. The crowd's rapturous reception of Soft Bulletin [Live at Red Rocks] acts like another instrument in the album's mix, with the swells of applause for songs ranging from the iconic "Waitin' for a Superman" and "Race for the Prize" to the instrumental "The Observer" providing euphoric crescendos between each performance. An engaging and special live album that remains true to the original's maximalist, life-affirming glory, Soft Bulletin [Live at Red Rocks] is another fine example of the care and creativity the Flaming Lips put into all of their music.

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