“Where are my people?!” The first words heard by 7,000 hardcore Prodigy fans when the band took to the stage of Alexandra Palace just after midnight on Friday, “Where are my Prodigy people?!”
Maxim demanded a response. Dressed in a sleeveless, hooded fur coat, donning the familiar white paint around the eyes, the dreadlocked fiend emerged from the dry ice and took centre stage. The thousands of loyal followers obliged by providing a rapturous roar. The enigmatic and eccentric Keith Flint then graced the stage dressed as a diabolical policeman and bringing back the iconic two rows of dyed spikes of hair.
This was not to be a simple electro-dance rave. This was to be a riotous uprising from fans who were willing to live and die by the heavy basslines and various electronic keyboard effects.
The set was opened with ‘Breathe’, one of the most popular anthems from their third studio album, The Fat Of The Land, with the opening riff receiving a euphoric cheer. It perfectly set the tone for the rest of the night. The crowd started jumping up and down, thrashing from side to side, chanting along to the chorus. Their recent single ‘Nasty’ from the new album The Day Is My Enemy followed, and it proved to all Prodigy fans new and old that these three guys are not slowing down. The opening two songs were released nearly twenty years apart, but they seemed so at home together. Arguably the most recognisable Prodigy track of all time was next – ‘Omen’. Every single fan shouted and screamed along to the chorus, a forest of arms in the air, refracting the lighting across Ally Pally with fingers pointed or palms out stretched. ‘Wild Frontier’ was next, which is possibly the most popular track from the new album. Similarly to ‘Nasty’, this track belongs at a Prodigy show, surrounded by anthems perfected over twenty-plus years of experience.
The ever popular ‘Firestarter’ followed and it was becoming increasingly hard to believe that these were the first five songs of the set. Usually an artist will save their biggest and best for last, creating an anticipation around the arena. But that’s just not how The Prodigy role. They don’t stick to tradition, they make their own rules – they make the rules. By having these tracks up first, it got the crowd going from the start, and ensured that even through the lesser known tracks from the new album, such as ‘Rok-Weiler’ and ‘Get Your Fight On’, the atmosphere did not change or subside.
The set finished with the ever controversial, but equally as engaging, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. The band left to immediate chants of “Pro-di-gy!” and “We want more!”, only to reemerge minutes later for a two-track encore. Maxim was at it again upon their return, demanding his people to create a circular pit in the middle of the floor, ready for the final battle. The people obeyed his order and as soon as the drop of ‘Their Law’ commenced, a titanic wrath of flailing limbs and bopping bodies collapsed into the circle, creating the kind of carnage usually witnessed at a punk or heavy-metal concert, not an electronic-dance show.
The Prodigy vacated the stage for the final time after ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, a beautifully ironic final track following on from the mayhem of the moshpit. The crowd were left to catch their breath and soak in their sweaty t-shirts after earning a well earned rest. Many of the 7,000 attendees descended upon the exits, but the vast majority stayed behind for the DJ set that followed and took them into the early hours of Saturday morning.
This performance was many things. It showed everyone in attendance that The Prodigy are by no means slowing down. We have had to wait six years for a new record, but it was worthwhile. The Day Is My Enemy offers fans more of what they love about this band. High intensity, never say die tracks that keep you going, and if anything, seem to be keeping those three blokes from London going. Even though they are all fast approaching their half-century, the energy and passion provided seem just as intense as it did twenty years ago. You’d be forgiven a few years ago if you thought they were over, with their best and more youthful years well behind them. But they have come back this year with a bang bigger than anyone could have expected. The Prodigy have once again confirmed that they are one of the best live acts, not just now, but ever.