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Music review: The Flaming Lips

The Palais Theatre, St Kilda, January 8

The Flaming Lips are renowned as one of the world's most impressive live acts, a band whose performances are, in essence, massive parties complete with balloons, confetti and crazy costumes. But how would such a band's style translate to the refined setting of St Kilda's Palais Theatre, a sit-down venue more suited to gentle acoustic performances than wild rock'n'roll?

In the beginning, it seemed like the Lips had opted to tone down their act to suit their surroundings. Gone was lead singer Wayne Coyne's traditional space bubble entrance, where he bounces around on top of the crowd. Instead, Coyne and the rest of the band simply walked on to stage like any other band, albeit with a giant TV screen behind them, launching into the gentle The Abandoned Hospital Ship from their 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic.

But then the drums kicked in, the confetti cannons blasted, giant balloons flew out into the crowd and the sit-down venue immediately became a stand-up one. A giant balloon spelling out 'F--k Yeah Melbourne' was tossed into the crowd and survived for several songs before deflating into a shiny mess.

Coyne, although looking a little shaggier and greyer, still leads his band with an energy and style that can best be described as joyous. Sporting a glam rock look of eyeliner and tight pants, Coyne led the band through a series of their best-loved tunes, including Fight Test, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The W.A.N.D and all the way back to the single that brought the band brief mainstream success, 1993's She Don't Use Jelly.

Fans were shocked when the Lips collaborated with pop starlet Miley Cyrus last year and the band paid tribute to the controversial chanteuse by performing Evil Is But A Shadow from her recent album, (for a minute we thought Cyrus would be a surprise guest, since she is in the country, but it was not to be).

The show climaxed with the life-affirming Do You Realise? with many members of the crowd scooping up handfuls of confetti to toss in the air. It was clear they didn't want the party to end. Even one of the stern security guards was grinning from ear to ear; it was that type of show.