Live music review: Flying Lotus

Vicar Street, Dublin

****

Flying Lotus endears himself to a slightly damp Vicar Street crowd by recalling a previous experience of Ireland: being offered ecstasy at a festival.

“What the f**k is a yoke?” he had replied then.

Dressed like a science teacher, in white shirt and black tie, he has clearly done his homework, asking the near-capacity audience if anyone has some yokes with them tonight.

Flying Lotus, otherwise known as Steven Ellison, puts on a gas mask, with its eyes lit up, and we’re away on a psychedelic journey that fuses myriad genres with his pillars of hip-hop, jazz, and rap.

Ellison takes up residence between two giant screens, upon which are projected a slew of mindbending images, drawing on the artwork of his fifth album, You’re Dead!.

It is only when Ellison’s frequent collaborator, Thundercat, comes out that the crowd realises some 50 minutes have passed and that they’ve just been staring in awe.

Sporting a headdress that looked like he went hunting on his way to Vicar Street, the six-string bassist educates the crowd in some free jazz and funk, helping them find their dancing feet.

With titles like ‘Descent into Madness’, it shouldn’t take much to figure out where the show went from there.

But there’s no working out Ellison. He summons his alter ego, Captain Murphy, as he jumps into the crowd and feels the love.

It’s his bouncing ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’ and angry ‘Shake Weight’ that turn things revelatory.

‘Never Catch Me’ features piped-in Kendrick Lamar, but still captivates, providing a gripping finale that shows that whether Steven Ellison, Captain Murphy, or Flying Lotus, collaborating or alone, this is a prodigious talent that laughs at the prospect of limitation.

Ellison is seeking a different kind of high, a new audiovisual experience that, contrary to his fifth album’s title, will leave you feeling more alive than ever.

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