LondonNet Music Guide

The Prodigy

Gig Review:
Brixton Academy
1st December 2005

Buy Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005 at >>

Burn and Shine
The Prodigy's expensive, impressive lights show is still subsidiary to their crowd-pleasing, chest-thumping musical performance...

The Prodigy.  Image: Chris DavisonThe Prodigy has always and will always be about the music. This was never more evident than when they released 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, which was written, produced and mixed almost solely by mastermind Liam Howlett, with very little influence from Keith Flint and Maxim Reality, whose razor sharp lyrics and unique appearances are the two most recognizable parts of the Prodigy. Flint and Maxim are still integral parts of the live show, however, and provide their voices even on tracks where they don't appear on the album.

The Prodigy's latest release, Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005 chronicles the band's history and includes over 30 tracks over two discs. This greatest hits collection has the band back on tour again, where they landed in London for five sold out nights in a row at Brixton Academy. I caught the first night of the string of shows, and I came away impressed.

The Prodigy's shows are truly epic. The audience's anticipation for the band's appearance was palpable. When the curtain rose, a half-circle of turntables and keyboards surrounded Howlett as he began his signature beats of the Intro. An enormous Union Jack flag unfurled in the background of the stage. As the music built up, lights flashed on opposite sides of the stage to platforms where Keith Flint and Maxim Reality emerged onto oversized snare drums and met a crescendo of cheers from the packed house at Brixton.

Most of the Prodigy's tunes consist of repeated phrases with Howlett mixing and mashing rave music, which lends much freelance capability to its two MCs, who seem to relish their role. Maxim quickly took over the audience with spurts of gravelly encouragement as Flint danced around the stage, and Howlett began the riotous Break and Enter. Properly titled Wake the Fuck Up followed and seamlessly transitioned into Their Law.

Just when I thought the cheers were at a peak, Maxim told the crowd, "It's time to inhale," and the thunderous riffs of Breathe began while the venue's euphoric energy hitched up a level. The sepia lights washed over the stage and turned the Union Jack to black and white as Flint and Maxim broke out the song's acidic lyrics. Not to be outdone, the incendiary Firestarter began to play a few songs later, highlighted by waves of smoke filling the stage while red and orange lights flooded everywhere, giving Flint's demonic prancing a perfect backdrop.

The band left the stage after album-quality renditions of No Good (including an appearance by Leeroy Thornhill and his lanky arms gyrating across the stage, who quit the band in 2000) and Voodoo People. The crowd's pleas for more got the boys promptly back on stage, however, and they quickly launched into their encore.

As Howlett vibrated the building from floor to ceiling with rumbling bass, Maxim's biting lyricism powered Poison. Flashes of red, blue, and green lighting danced symmetrically throughout the song, joining the fans in their constant movement. Smack My Bitch Up, an obvious favourite, was next and you could feel the crowd trying to use every last ounce of energy as they sensed the end of this prodigal performance.

Out of Space was the grand finale. With a sample proclaiming "I'll take your brain to another dimension," and light flitting off the enormous disco ball hanging above the stage, the crowd chanted the chorus fervently, marking the end of a thrilling gig.

The lights could have been a show in itself, but thankfully the Prodigy is more than just a fireworks show. Taking dance music to another level, the live show comes off as the best club night ever, and since they are also one of the only techno bands to use live guitar and drums, you would have to be dead to not be bobbing your head and throwing your arms into the air, hailing to the brilliance that is the Prodigy.

Brandon Morgan

Buy Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005 at >>