The Prodigy

•• The Prodigy @ Brixton Academy, London, 1 December 2005
•• Published: SoundsXP, December 2005
•• Original article:

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?

Every 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.

Such 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, Chemicals-meets-Pistols 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'.

Huge 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.

Maxim 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
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014