Brixton Academy, London, 1 December 2005
Selling out a full five-day residency of Brixton Academy
is no mean feat, neither is hitting the number one spot
in the album charts with every release but your debut. But
is this tour of The Prodigy's back catalogue just a nostalgia
trip cash-in or are the act that came to prominence with
a cartoon cat rave tune in 1991 still relevant and able
to produce the incendiary live goods that have been their
trademark throughout the past decade and a half?
phase of The Prodigy's evolution is covered tonight from
the white-gloved rave of 'Charly' to anti-establishment
anthem 'Their Law' through to the techno punk of landmark
number one single 'Firestarter' and the electro attitude
of last year's 'Spitfire'. It means different sections of
the crowd get more into different parts of the gig than
others, 'Jericho' making the ravers whoop but leaving the
rockers looking non-plussed, but the one thing that glues
the whole set together is each track's hard-as-nails edge
and nose-bloodying energy.
blatant, in-your-face lairyness doesn't always pay off,
'Back To School' punches and pummells but gets a bit lost
in a mass of bass and drums, but overall this is a masterclass
in how to entertain a crowd with Keith Flint's hyperactive
lunacy and Maxim Reality's aggressive MC-ing adding even
more force to Liam Howlett's rough electronic brew. Loose-limbed
dancer, Leeroy even comes off leave for 'No Good (Start
The Dance)' to complete the original quartet.
This is no straight run through their greatest hits though
with many of the singles taken in new directions and the
inclusion of many other career highlights. 'Action Radar'
sees Flint's Dad-dancing robotics backed up by screeching,
techno mayhem as strangled guitars slice through a grungy
mass of drums and apocalyptic atmospherics. 'Hot Ride' also
gets itself roughed up, much better than the faux punk original,
with skull-cracking tribal drums combining with Flint's
trademark sneer, though he saves his Lydonesque best for
chart-toppers 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe'.
racks of speakers snake their way above the stage, which
already has two massive stacks either side of it, combining
to produce sheer, eardrum-destroying blasts of raw noise.
During the encore, the bass of 'Poison' is that
deep you can feel your clothes vibrating, but it is the
next track, 'Diesel Power', that has such unbelievable
force it's as if your internal organs are being shaken.
growls: "It's time to let the cat out of the bag! Bring
back the fucking cat!" and it can mean only one thing
as the yowling moggy mix of 'Charly' is duly
aired in its full white-gloved glory. Howlett teases the
crowd with 'Everybody In The Place' before unleashing reggae
rave hit, 'Out Of Space' to close, with the exhausted, tinnitus-riddled
audience singing along at the top of their voices. A firework
display would have been a fitting end to an otherwise explosive
show but all-in-all this was a bruising exercise in rock-laced
hard dance and sneering cartoon anarchy that reinforced
The Prodigy's already impeccable live credentials.
- Ian Roullier, 12/2005