Fireworks night proved to be the perfect timing for The Prodigy to put on a seriously explosive show, the only casualties being a few thousand sets of eardrums and surely a few sore heads the following morning. A night with Liam, Keith and Maxim is not one that goes by gently, and tonight is no exception. It is deafening, it is incendiary, it is a performance from a band that, despite some shaky recent recorded output, still put on one hell of a live show.
Any setlist that begins with a track as powerful and legendary as ‘Breathe’ is one from an artist of supreme confidence. With Keith Flint prowling the front of stage, and Maxim dressed in a giant Yeti-esque outfit, there is no let-up right from the start. ‘Resonate’ from this month’s No Tourists follows, and it makes an important early statement. If there has been one common criticism of the band, it is that they haven’t moved their sound on since their late-90s heyday. In this setting, in this environment, it matters not one bit. That track, and the others from their new album that are scattered amongst tonight’s set, fit perfectly. There are no awkward segues between styles, no mis-steps. Everything slots together, flowing perfectly from one peak to another.
Cumulatively the effect of the night is like being hit with a baseball bat repeatedly, such is the power and relentlessness of the bass and beats slamming from the stage. Normally that would be a bad thing, but tonight it’s a pleasure. The lights, the beat, everything crashes through you, every bassline is felt deep in the gut. The band members play their parts just as you would expect, Maxim MC-ing to fire the crowd up whenever there is even the slightest chance of a drop in pressure, while Keith seems to drop in and out of the fray at will. Behind them all, save for a brief thumbs-up before the encore, Liam Howlett remains anonymous behind his decks.
Though they may be resisting becoming a heritage band, it is still the classic moments that you would expect that deliver the highest highs. ‘Voodoo People’ sees the crowd surging after one note, whereas, if the atmosphere in the room could be bottled up – as red lights bathe Keith in a devilish glow just before the explosion of ‘Firestarter’ – it would sell for millions. For a split second, the arena becomes like a scene from The Matrix, only with beer being seemingly frozen in the air rather than bullets. Bigger yet is the one-two of ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, a combination that actually makes the room seem to shake.
It is the type of gig that brings old mates back together for one wild night to remind themselves of their younger selves 20 years ago. However, it doesn’t exist in a hermetically-sealed time capsule of nostalgia. The fire and the fury of The Prodigy live is something to behold, and the years are taking nothing away from their ability to turn any room into riotous carnage at the drop of a beat.