By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
Let’s face it; it’s now officially the Christmas wind-down, and this week you’re going to do bugger all, or put all your energy into replying to two emails and one “maybe” to a meeting request. Always keep it maybe, keep ’em guessing. Unless you work in retail, then, in that case, I stand in absolute solidarity with you.
So of course, when you’re slowing down & getting yourself ready for the festive break, the only thing you should be doing with your evenings is making merry at a Prodigy gig, yeah?
Embarking on a wee little yuletide tour of some of the UK’s smaller venues, The Prodigy rocked up at the Wolverhampton Civic, ready to drop some festive beats on these Voodoo People. The last two times I’ve seen The Prodigy, one was in the open air at Sonisphere, and the other was in the airy comfort of the Birmingham Arena. Wolverhampton Civic is a sweaty little box in comparison and as much as I love it, sharing it with a few thousand other people is not a tantalising thought.
But either way, as the lights went out, smoke filled the hall and Liam Howlett himself took to the stage, shit was about to kick off, and when Maxim Attack and Keith Flint arrived, shit got incredibly real. Opening with the ominous Omen, it was pretty clear that Wolverhampton was more than up for it, with the crowd shimmying through a frenzy of lights, lasers, and beats. But Omen is getting on in years now, so why not something new?
Resonate (citation needed) just goes to show that despite nearing their 30th anniversary, The Prodigy knows how to keep it fresh & interesting. It’s not a frantic tune and feels more like a bombastic dance track – something you can confidently strut down the street to. Does this, coupled with a micro-tour mean that a follow-up to The Day is My Enemy due? Sure hope so, and judging by the sleeves-up and stuck in reaction of the crowd, they sure do, too. My city, my people!
Need Someone (citation needed) will catch you off guard as it starts off with a slow synth line, with resident scary person Keith Flint saying he needs someone, then all hell will break loose. It’s still got the same stomping feel as Resonate, but instead of strutting down the road, you now realise you’ve been poncing about too much and you’re running for the bus. It sounds like the Alton Towers theme tune snorted… some unmentionable powder… Two big new tunes with a LOT of promise here.
But it’s not just about the new tracks, we want to hear some classics! And our boys duly obliged as they got the crowd working through Nasty and Wild Frontier. Good pit consistency, a lot of half-naked sweaty bald guys but needs must. Everybody in the Place also made an appearance, still feeling modern despite being part of the 90s rave scene.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Prodigy gig without Firestarter and good lord, when this track started I saw Keith Flint look down the middle of the hall, and I swear to you now, we locked eyes and I’ve never felt more scared. Despite my numerous mental health issues, which we won’t discuss, I feel I’m pretty resilient, nothing wobbles me, but Keith Flint, my friends, frightens the everliving piss out of me. It’s one of the biggest tunes in the world, and commanded a prize effort from the Wolverhampton crowd.
The Day is My Enemy didn’t get the love it deserved, I feel. It was a solid album, didn’t top Invaders Must Die, but few albums could. Which is why it was such a treat to get the title track from that album, plus a thousand heartbeats a minute filthy drum ‘n’ bass remix, straight into Roadblox, with Get Your Fight On also elbowing its way into the set. Seriously, go have a listen to it and tell me what you think, I think it’s great and needs a bit more loving. Of course, I wasn’t reviewing albums back then, but rest assured, I’d have marked it highly.
But nothing could come close to Voodoo People. The eclectic mix of people, from the retired ravers to the long-haired moshers, straight through to yer da was actually brilliant. To see such a strange but interesting mix of people all giving the same reaction to the same songs was fantastic. Only truly great acts can transcend genres and generations alike, and The Prodigy are one of them. We also enjoyed a hot-to-trot mix at the end of this too; good for the ears, terrible for unfit music writers such as myself.
Jesus Christ, I’m tired just writing this. The shirt I wore is likely contorted out of use because of sweat, and I’ve got blood all up my nose right now. So you’ll believe me when I say it was the most fun I’ve ever had on a Tuesday evening.
Oh yeah, where were we? Despite needing to Breathe, all I could get in return was Breathe, and it was around this point in the set that the crowd started to die out a bit; mosh pits became staggered dance pits, which became synchronised stumbles, which slowly decayed into outright nudity. You ever had some bald guy rub his head against your shirt? I’m not a violent man in any way shape or form, but it took a lot for me not to crack his head open like a boiled egg.
Not one for slowing it down for an acoustic number, we got dealt Run With the Wolves, Poison, Invaders Must Die before reaching the crescendo of Smack My Bitch Up, and when Maxim tells you to get down, you dutifully oblige. Are you really gonna refuse that man’s wishes? I thought not.
The encore comprised of classic tracks No Good (Start the Dance) and Their Law, two massive originals for the jilted generation, no matter which generation you come from. Take Me to the Hospital closed off the set, by this point all people wanted was a glass of water and yes, to be taken to the hospital.
All in all, an absolutely top-notch set from the kings of electronic music; classics played with outright precision, modern tracks landing like bombs and new tracks giving so much promise. Last gig of 2017, but you’ll see a lot of me next year, live and kickin’ from the pit.