Review of The Prodigy Gig at Brixton Academy
The Prodigy @ Brixton Academy 8/10 – Extensive and strong setlist, VERY intense show, crap sound quality but still a lot of fun!
To celebrate the apparent end of the world and more importantly the 15th anniversary of ‘The Fat Of The Land’, legendary British dance act The Prodigy held three sell out nights at the Brixton Academy and I was lucky enough to grab some tickets for day one.
It was a late show with 3 supports and a post-gig DJ set by some guy called Caspa whom I’ve never heard of (Ed – you have to forgive Al, he usually listens to rock) but two members of my entourage got really excited when I said his name. The Prodigy were due on at midnight and I had no intention of staying afterwards ‘til 3am listening to dubstep, the aforementioned friends were adamant they would remain for Caspa’s set and both predicted the entire crowd would do the same… more on that later.
The Prodigy (who I will refer to from now on as simply ‘Prodigy’) came on and jumped straight into ‘Voodoo People’, then all hell broke loose for the next 90 minutes. The live iteration of Prodigy is a different beast entirely to the studio counterpart, the usual trio of Liam, Keith and Maxim are backed up by Leo Crabtree on drums and Rob Holliday jumping between bass and guitar. What you get is a true live act and not just a generic DJ set.
This is the third time I’ve seen Prodigy live, they’re the only dance act I really like and it makes for a very different experience compared to any other music concert I’ve been to and FYI the standing stalls are not for the faint of heart (or lungs). Front to back, side to side the entire venue was a mess of jumping, sweaty arms clambering over one another and circle pits down the front. Curiously not a lot of genuine raving went on.
There was little to zero chat between songs, in fact there was little to zero gap between songs at all since Prodigy’s idea of a show is to essentially pound the audience into submission with the first hit and then never stop! All the numbers are pretty much mixed straight into one another following the philosophy to cram as much intensity into as little time as possible.
Sound wise Prodigy has never been amazingly tight, not in my experience at any rate. Tonight was no exception, the volume was vamped up to about as much as Brixton can get away with thus creating the inevitable wall of distortion and bass that makes your liver literally tremble. As a result sound quality took a nose-dive meaning samples and melodies (‘Invaders Must Die’ being a good example) were lost in the mix almost entirely. Very often the opening samples were the only clue to the crowd what the song was before dropping back into the all-consuming wall of beats and bass. The vocal assaults from Keith and Maxim however soared well above these issues and so you knew when to scream along (‘Omen’ took the crown for biggest crowd singing response of the night). As frontmen Keith and Maxim are VERY engaging and they’ve got terrifying stage presence (I swear they never used to be that hench). More physicality than speeches, the few words either of them did utter were usually explicit in nature and by show’s end there was no shock value left in the word ‘fuck’. Since Liam loves to hide behind 30 laptops, the frontmen made up the bulk of the stage show, just accompanied with a shitload of lights (apparently my brother-in-law managed to shake Keith’s hand, so well done to him).
For the most part the sound wasn’t much of an issue because I do not believe that people go to these types of shows for absolute sonic clarity and to take in all the little nuances within each song. I think the boys of Prodigy know that too, they give the punters what they want and what they want is noise! Most of the time I wasn’t staring at the stage but rather just in my own little zone amongst the moving masses having an awesome time while simultaneously trying to stay alive.
There were two short intermissions in the show, where Liam just laid down some ambient noise and the rest of the band stopped at the request of security whilst they fished out some overwhelmed teenagers. Dehydration is something of an issue at these shows, it happened when I saw them in Dublin a couple years back too.
The set was very extensive, totalling at 22 songs spanning the majority of the band’s back catalogue. 2004’s ‘Always Outnumbers Never Outgunned’ was bypassed altogether as it was for the majority of the previous world tour, not to worry though since most regard it as the band’s weakest album. They also introduced a few newcomers to the set including ‘Jetfighter’ and ‘AWOL’ which are due to be released as part of their unnamed 6th studio record. I can’t say much about these new tracks since the crappy sound quality made it hard to decipher some songs I already knew never mind something I was hearing for the first time. All I can say is that they incorporated heavy beats of some description, which I admit isn’t that helpful since I’ve basically described every Prodigy song ever written.
By show’s end me and my boys were exhausted, and all of them (including the Caspa lovers) retreated from the venue the moment Prodigy left the stage. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of other people had the same idea as there were masses of sweat-drenched concert goers all standing outside in the freezing December air in t-shirts and hardly caring. If anybody reading this was there on first night and stayed ‘til 3am, let me know how many people actually survived it to Caspa’s set.
Also a final shout-out to an absolute gentleman in the crowd. I lost my phone about halfway through the show and at the end somebody had found it on the floor and called my mate on it so they could agree a meeting spot outside the venue to return it to me. There you are people, decorum is not dead!
Breathe The Day
Run With The Wolves
World’s On Fire
Invaders Must Die
Smack My Bitch Up
Take Me To The Hosptial
Out Of Space
Review by Al Westlake