To celebrate fifteen years since the release of their third album, “The Fat Of The Land”, The Prodigy generously treated their fans to a re-release of the album (with additional “Added Fat” remixes) and three (almost) all night raves at London’s Brixton Academy. They lined up a whole host of support acts, with Caspa playing all three nights, and Jaguar Skills, Araab Muzik, Shy FX, South Central, Gedo Mega Bitch, Devious D and I.R.O.K. sharing deputy support responsibility at various points over the three dates.
Kicking off on the first night, the first support act up was Gedo Mega Bitch, who happens to be the wife of The Prodigy’s Keith Flint. The show started tentatively, swinging from trance to dubstep and drum & bass, with opportunities for epic drops being sadly wasted as she, almost timidly, played through her set. The audience didn’t seem particularly excited except at one point when the set crashed into an unplanned silence.
The following set from South Central started with more promise, particularly as you could see on the projected screen that they were doing more than just cueing tracks up. They glitched and mashed their way through their set, playing Pendulum riffs over the top of the tracks and making the most of drop opportunities. The crowd cautiously left any reticence behind and started to warm up, and by the time the third support act (Jaguar Skills) emerged, things were starting to go off in the audience.
Jaguar Skills presided over his impressively genius set from what looked like the side of an ice cream van. Mindful of the audience before him, he mashed metal classics from Motorhead and Metallica (much to the glee of an avid metal fan behind me) with old school jungle and rave classics like “Original Nuttah” and “Sweet Harmony”, and even finished, slightly bizarrely, with Madness’ “One Step Beyond”. By the final throes of the set the crowd was fizzing and eagerly anticipating the main event of the night.
And so, just after midnight, The Prodigy finally took to the stage and launched straight into “Voodoo People”. The crowd went nuts. What followed was a set that infused classics such as “Breathe”, “Omen”, “Poison” and “Firestarter” with a fresh dubstep-style undertone. With production genius Liam Howlett at the helm of The Prodigy’s control centre, wild-eyed Maxim and scary-haired Flint roamed the stage barking and snarling lyrics, much to the obvious elation of the audience.
While they were on a roll, the band sporadically threw in new tracks “Jet Fighter” and “AWOL” from the new, eagerly anticipated album, “How To Steal A Jet Fighter”, the former of which had been previously aired at Download Festival in the summer. These were well received, as was brand new track “The Day”, with the crowd moshing and throwing themselves about as enthusiastically as when other favourites like “Thunder”, “Run With The Wolves”, “World’s On Fire” and “Spitfire” were played. During “Invaders Must Die” Flint disappeared (or at least that seemed to be the case to those of us trapped in the Circle seats), and Maxim distracted the crowd by encouraging everyone to do the classic hand movements to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.
Suddenly, as “Diesel Power” struck up, Flint appeared in the gangway about 10 feet away from me, at the front of the Circle. How he got there I have no idea, and at this point I’m not sure how the Circle didn’t collapse due to the excited hopping and grabbing that ensued! Far from being the scary mentalist he seems to be onstage, Flint obliged by stopping for pictures and clasping the hands of his adoring fans and then, as swiftly as he appeared, he vanished through the exit and reappeared back onstage in time for the final epic track of the set, “Smack My Bitch Up”.
After opening the encore with “Take Me To The Hospital” and another new track, “Dogbite”, those of us who have loved the band from the beginning were treated to “Hyperspeed” and (my personal all-time favourite) “Out Of Space” from their first album, “Experience”. Whilst I would have preferred that they had played “Fire” from that album instead of “Hyperspeed” it was still a perfect journey back to the old school rave classics that started off the band’s 22 year career. And with that, the band disappeared into the murkiness at the back of the stage and left the audience, exhausted but happy, in the hands of their last support act, Caspa.
My only other slight disappointment with the set was that they didn’t play “Warrior’s Dance”, which is puzzling since it was such a huge hit for them. But whatever their reasons for omitting that track, the rest of the set was a shining triumph, and they certainly put their Brixton Warriors through their paces!