Tickertape, giant balloons, glove puppets and an assortment of fans dancing on stage (dressed as Santa Clauses and aliens, naturally) - welcome to the world of the Flaming Lips.

The Oklahoma trio have been producing odd, psychedelic sonic experiments for more than 20 years.

Race For the Prize, taken from 1999's The Soft Bulletin, opens what is a dizzying set of wildly imaginative psych-pop vignettes, cramming more ideas into one song than most bands manage throughout their entire career.

Drawing largely on their superlative new album, At War With the Mystics, and its predecessor Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the weird-pop alchemists display a disarming sense of honesty, humanity and, above all, superbly crafted songs of hope, innocence and child-like wonder.

A euphoric Do You Realize? is greeted by deafening cheers from an enraptured audience, and is arguably the most uplifting song to ever be penned about death. It's an overwhelmingly poignant moment - in their heads, Chris Martin and Richard Ashcroft both wish their music was as touching, and huge-sounding, as this.

On returning, they launch into Feeling Yourself Disintegrate, continuing the theme of mortality, but with a much more downbeat edge. Nonetheless, it's woozy and shimmering, liberally sprinkled with the Lips' magic.

Rather than the current voguish trend for Oliver Twist-alikes, frontman Wayne Coyne appears elegantly tailored, and his wide-eyed enthusiasm alone is enough to make a strong case for his status as one of the best band-leaders in the world.

The Lips live experience - more akin to a large-scale children's party than a normal gig, with Coyne the master magician pulling strings like rabbits out of a hat - finishes with their by-now customary interpretation of Black Sabbath's War Pigs.

Few bands can match the joie de vivre apparent during the Flaming Lips' live show. Well into their third decade as an outfit, their stride hasn't been broken, and right now nobody can stop them.

Simon Harper ..SUPL: