Photography: John Johnson / @John_Johno

The Prodigy

Echo Arena 8/11/18

It could be difficult being in THE PRODIGY. Where do you place them now? Evil rave? Metal dance? Broken acid? There’s a mass of pigeon holes that the three-piece could slide into and then slide out of the other side kicking and shouting. But each hole would never fit the spiky shaped peg that The Prodigy have become. They have never deviated from what they have always believed they’ve been. They are the musical equivalent of scratching that itch that you’re not supposed to because it’s bleeding, but it feels so good to scratch it, regardless of the damage you’re doing to yourself. I hurt myself dancing tonight, so the analogy stands. Not so much blood, more a bruise. Injured in the line of live music reviewing. Keith, Maxim and Liam would love that.

They love the reception that over 5,500 people give them when the thin fabric drops, billowing out a light show that blinded the eyes and set the scene for the next 90 minutes. LOUD. BRIGHT. VIOLENT. And that’s just the crowd. It’s everything that one has come to expect from The Prodigy now they steadfastly refuse to calm down. Or write a ballad. Or write anything with a BPM slower than a speeding car. Which is pretty much the new album No Tourists; a breakneck ride that doesn’t let up with the beats and production. Thankfully, the live side of the record is the same. Although 90 minutes seems a bit short, at no point does it stop or sag or feel like they are catching a moment to compose themselves. Breathe opens proceedings and it’s relentless from here on in.

“LOUD. BRIGHT. VIOLENT. And that’s just the crowd. It’s everything that one has come to expect from The Prodigy now they steadfastly refuse to calm down”

Keith Flint fronts the powerful Omen which lapses into Champions Of London, possibly the most angry tune on the new album. That’s not taking anything away from Maxim, who is, arguably, the best frontman on the live arena circuit. He prowls and scowls, leaping from one shape to another, his rhyming and lyric toasting is cold, clinical and dynamic, even when it’s limited in the fantastic Need Some 1. He loves Liverpool, it seems, although his patter is slightly diminished when he gives a shout out to all his “Wednesday people”. It’s Thursday, as the band point out to him. He’s a dance overlord. He doesn’t care what day it is. Touring does that to you.

Late noughties bass beat shouters Pendulum did a cracking remix of Voodoo People in 2012 and it’s this version that gets an airing here. The difference in the feel of the song is not lost on the Arena floor tonight. One seething and sweating mass moves across the floor like gas as the band struggle to keep up with the beats that seem as though they are at one with the volatile heap. Is it a cover version if you cover someone else’s remix of your song? Does anyone care?

The Prodigy Image 2

Smack My Bitch Up unites everyone even more, the chorus giving an un-PC delight to everyone gathered. More loud. More bright. More twisted. The highlight, though, was Their Law. A guitar stabbed indie dance epic, co-written with Pop Will Eat Itself, that still sounds as fresh and dangerous as it did in 94. A bit like our techno crew, still lurking and leaping like they’d just arrived on stage, with the lights still drilling into the collective Liverpool cranium; the buses as part of the stage set lit as though they’re about to drive off the stage and straight into the audience, managing to mow down the band in the process. That would seem quite normal and entirely fitting with what Liverpool witnesses tonight. Violent anger-techno with a seething disco core. It just what we wanted and just what we get. Utterly incredible.

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