Start the dance!
Back on tour, 1,2,3. “It’s been too long!” as Maxim quite rightly put it. But The Prodigy are back! Playing for the second night in a row at their favourite London location, Brixton Academy. It’s Saturday the fourth of December, my nineteenth birthday and the day my accomplice had been waiting nine years for, the biggest Prodigy fan in (the fat of) the land. Outside the doors, an hour in advance, we met other hardcore, fanatical ravers, five of us stood in a huddle, our collective spending on e-bay-bought tickets coming to £293. For the hour solid, my accomplice and two of the others managed to discuss every obscure remix, the track-listings on the XL tapes, how many copies of ‘What Evil Lurks’ they possessed, everything Prodigy. I stood in awe, as I would for the rest of the night.
First in, front row, Babe Ruth’s ‘The Mexican’ playing on the P.A. The beginning of something special. The first support act, Youth Of Britain (YOB) appeared on stage after a little wait, representing the future of the live music spectacle, incorporating video footage synced with their lyrics and chucking a load of money (counterfeit hundred dollar bills) into the audience after one of their numbers. They had an element of The Streets in them, met with the ‘Parklife’-reciting Phil Daniels and the Sex Pistols, but it worked. Their sign said “Love it or hate it” and that Marmite slogan seemed to sum up the crowd’s reaction, I’d give them an 8/13 for their performance though, for their different approach to live music.
Clor followed and they looked good. Bits borrowed from Kraftwerk’s dress-sense in their image and the keyboardist resembling slightly the guy from Sparks. The band’s music was punchy and cool, electro bits and catchy riffs score them a 9/13. Then it was up to DJ Eddie Temple Morris to keep the audience going until Liam, Maxim and Keith took the helm. A good set that included Blur’s cracking ‘Song 2’ which got the whole crowd chanting every word, a bit of Jane’s Addiction’s ‘Been Caught Stealing’ reminding us all of Dirtchamber, then to end it, The Prodigy’s own ‘Out Of Space’ beautiful.
It was time, the curtain fell to reveal the controller’s two Apple laptops labelled with the insignia: Liam lives here! And then out he walked, followed by a crazy looking, mohicaned Keith and raring MC, Maxim Reality. Two words: “Wake Up.” And the opener certainly did awake the crowd who stormed forward crushing everyone at the front, Maxim’s massive leg-kicks were on display accompanying Keith’s deranged movements. The song, as with all the tunes that they kicked out of ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’ worked well in the absence of the featured vocalists on the recordings, in this case Juliette Lewis.
For the brilliant ‘Their Law’ they were joined by a live guitarist and drummer, the audience quite happily joined in on the excessively recited soundbyte “Fuck ‘em and their law!” That particular song summed up this gig-cum-rave, the amalgamation of heavy guitar music with quality techno synths that The Prodigy have achieved so perfectly. The set was laden with singles as well as quite a few new songs or unreleased tracks, however nothing was played from ‘Experience’ which was a shame, but they still rocked nonetheless.
Their third track, ‘Warning’ went down a storm even though I suspect few were familiar with it. It was followed by a strong rendition of ‘Spitfire’ then a certain highlight of the night: ‘Breathe’. After another new track penned in Amsterdam two weeks before, ‘Girls/More Girls’ came on, Keith and Maxim made a good job if bringing that song to life in a live setting and the crowd lapped it up lasciviously.
‘Action Radar’ preceded a brilliant version of ‘Firestarter’ which incorporated some ferocious beats and Keith coming down to meet the fans, walking horizontally along the railings in front of us. A very different mix of the current single ‘Hotride’ came on after that, rendered so much the vibe of the song has changed completely, but this live version worked implicitly.
Maxim also jumped offstage to be hailed by the front row, my accomplice managed to touch his armpit in a scramble of confusion, whereas I got a good stroke of his forearm, all holy. ‘Back To School’ then ‘The Way It Is’ which took Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ screws it up though a processor and delivers it out the other end as a hard-ass dance tune.
‘Mindfields’ was the ultimate classic of the night with lights and crowd participation galore, in which Keith seemed to do a special dance only for me, I looked around and back and he was there nodding and pointing to yours truly jigging quite suggestively, honoured.
They disappeared and returned for the massive encore kicked off with ‘Poison’ then a few ‘Release Yo’delf Beats’ and finally the awesome ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. The ender went down a real treat, everyone loved the grand scale of that epic paean to hardcore rave. 13/13.
After The Prodigy, Leeroy, who recently departed from the band, came on to do a DJ set to take the gig to it’s close at 3a.m. Much to the now mindless, dancing crowd’s delight he put ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’ on, lovely. What a fantastic night out, certainly worth seeing. The night as a whole, 12/13. Boosha!