wed 21/03/2018

The Prodigy, O2 Academy, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

The Prodigy, O2 Academy, Birmingham

The Prodigy, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Old-school ravers put on a show of metal-heavy mayhem

Keith Flint: still the Firestarter

The over-full O2 Academy is already like a sauna, with sweat dripping down the walls and clouds of condensation drifting above the audience, before the Prodigy even take to the stage in Birmingham. However, when a fur-coated MC Maxim leads the band out the atmosphere goes up several notches further and then positively explodes as Liam Howlett lays down the intro to 1997’s hit single “Breath”. Bodies are thrown around from the first beat, hands are raised and the temperature climbs even further.

“Nasty” and “Omen” follow in quick succession with heavy metal guitar riffs, football terrace chanting and hardcore beats. Seizure-inducing flashing lights mirror the pounding thump and people are soon climbing on each other’s shoulders to get a decent view of the stage. The intro to the Prodigy’s signature tune, “Firestarter” whips the crowd up to new heights as vocalist, dancer and all-round nutter Keith Flint adopts a Johnny Rotten snarl and declares “I’m the Firestarter! Twisted Firestarter!” It may be almost 20 years since he first made that claim but everyone here clearly still believes him.

The crowd go bonkers to the pounding beats and metallic guitars, bellowing the refrain, 'Fuck 'em and their law'

While newer tunes like “Rok-weiler” from this year’s The Day is my Enemy album are less impressive than the galloping “Voodoo People” and “Invaders Must Die”, there is no obvious lapse of energy when the band dips generously into their new material. MC Maxim stands on the drum riser barking out orders and giving shouts out to “All my people in Birmingham”, while encouraging the mayhem around him. “Wall of Death” even sees crowd-surfing and “Medicine” drops beats the size of bomb blasts and gets an appropriate reaction.

It is the opinion-dividing but quite glorious “Smack my Bitch Up” that ends the show as an all-enveloping cloud of dry ice surges from the stage. The crowd enthusiastically yell along with Maxim and bounce around to the shuffling groove until the dreadlocked MC finally leans into his microphone and, with a simple “Thank you”, leads the band off-stage. They are soon back, however, and launch into their anthemic reaction to the 1993 Criminal Justice Act that famously put paid to the outdoor rave scene – “Their Law”. Again the crowd go bonkers to the pounding beats and metallic guitars while bellowing the refrain of “Fuck ‘em and their law”. This is followed by “Take me to the Hospital” and a riot of lights, dry ice, heat, beats and bodies which only finally calms down when the Prodigy leave the stage for good.

They may have started their 25-year-old career as rave archetypes but the Prodigy of 2015 have mutated into a full-blown heavy metal band on stage. That said, they are one that has no truck with clichés such as guitar or drum solos and certainly have no time for the occasional power ballad. They are still most certainly a magnificent force of nature.

Seizure-inducing flashing lights mirror the pounding thump and people are soon climbing on each other’s shoulders to get a decent view of the stage


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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I've been gig going for almost thirty years, though mainly toward the rock/metal end of the spectrum. Last night was the first time I've ever seen The Prodigy, despite being a fan for many years. They were extraordinary and I'm still buzzing 24 hours later. An absolutely epic night I will never forget, what a fucking band.

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