14-year-old musician Nell Smith and psych rock veterans The Flaming Lips took their unlikely friendship to television last night, covering Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The track comes from Where the Viaduct Looms, an album of Nick Cave covers that Smith and the band released in November.
Smith took center stage with the veteran rockers arrayed behind her, as a projection screen brought the eye into a whirlpool of psychedelia. Lips frontman Wayne Coyne displayed his trademark humility, fading into the background and only stirring to sing the occasional supporting vocal or bang on a single drum. At the end, drummer Matthew Kirksey pulled his blazer aside to reveal a T-shirt that read “Bad Seed,” in tribute to Cave’s longtime band the Bad Seeds. Check out the performance below.
Smith, a teenage Flaming Lips fan from the UK, connected with the Oklahoma rockers in 2018 after becoming a front row regular at the band’s shows. After impressing singer Wayne Coyne with her fandom (and her penchant for wearing a parrot costume), the pair became pen pals, and Coyne encouraged Smith to begin making music herself. The fast friendship culminated in Where the Viaduct Looms. The group described the making of one such cover, “The Ship Song,” for our Origins series, and Coyne and Smith also stopped by our Peer 2 Peer interview series to discuss the album.
Back in October, The Flaming Lips took a break from performing shows in giant bubbles to play “Mother I’ve Taken LSD” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Their ongoing “American Head American Tour” resumes in San Antonio, Texas in March, and you can grab tickets through Ticketmaster.