The Prodigy are one of the finest bands ever. Purveyors of a dastardly blend of rave, big beat, dance and metal; they’re a live band for the ages. Dominic Walsh looks back at a gig from 2010.
I have a long history with The Prodigy. It took me until 2004 to see them live in Manchester; I was foiled in 1997 due to being deemed not old enough to attend. I had been listening to them since 1994/1995 when me and brother were indoctrinated by a couple of our cousins who we spent long summers with listening to music and generally being kids.
We were all aged between 9 and 13 around this time and The Prodigy were our Sex Pistols. They were anarchy. They were our electronic punks. We listened to Music For The Jilted Generation ad infinitum. They were frowned upon for children. Coming out of rave culture (for which I never experienced), this sound was unreal.
The inlay to Music For The Jilted Generation featured a spread of a rave going on as the rope bridge between the police and the party was about to be cut in unceremonoius fashion. It felt dangerous and as a young boy, this was different.
Music For The Jilted Generation contained swearing, visceral beats, catchy vocal lines and a sound that i’d never heard before. My cousins had the video, Electronic Punks. It contained live music clips, music videos, and interviews with the band. I remember the live video of Break & Enter with Kieth Flint having bottles smashed on his head to mimic the sound of the song. This was mental! I loved it.
The moment that the deal was sealed with me though was witnessing The Prodigy live at Phoenix Festival 1996 (on the TV of course). Their performances of Breathe and Their Law were released as the B-sides to Breathe, but to see the crowd losing their minds to this band as they were goaded by Maxim and Keith Flint, and danced at by Leroy Thornhill was a treat.
Fast forward to 2010 and The Prodigy were having a resurgence. Their rave fuelled, metal tinged beats had sound tracked a generation and brought a harder edge to music in the late 90’s when The Prodigy conquered the world.
And so, The Prodigy announced a tour for January 2010.
The Run With The Wolves Tour took in some smaller venues; smaller when you consider that The Prodigy would usually headline festivals and arenas worldwide. Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom has a capacity of around 3000 people. This was the chance I had always wanted; The Prodigy…up close and personal.
One of the best things about Blackpool Empress Ballroom is that it is built for ballroom dancing and thus, the floor is sprung. This means that when you have the people, en masse, bouncing up and down, it’s like floating. For the 90 minutes or so that The Prodigy played, I floated as the crowd bounced to every beat and did the bidding of the band.
Worlds On Fire opened the show – a cut from the band’s latest LP at the time, Invaders Must Die. The aforementioned album was released in 2009 and saw the band go back to a full group approach after Always Outnumbers, Never Outgunned, five years earlier. The setlist was a great mix of old and new. Such was the quality of Invaders Must Die, the songs sat perfectly with The Prodigy’s big hitters.
Breathe’s oppressive and aggressive bassline gave the foundations of the Empress Ballroom a test early doors. This also meant that we got to see the legendary Keith Flint come to life in front of us as the duelling vocals between him and Maxim enraptured the crowd. In keeping with the band’s ability to keep things fresh, the closing bar of Breathe had a dubstep beat applied.
I’m not a person that usually gets to the front for gigs; mainly because I wear glasses! This was different. I was in the mixer with friends and family and we were having a blast. Augmented by a live drummer and guitarist, Omen, Breathe, Poison, Warriors Dance, Firestarter, Run With The Wolves and Voodoo People all made an appearance. I’m not sure I’ve sweated so much at a gig due to exertion!
As the band ended their main set with Diesel Power and the ever controversial Smack My Bitch Up, the crowd got a moment to catch their breath before one of the best encores I have ever experiences.
Take Me To The Hospital opened the encore but it was the one-two of Out Of Space and Their Law that enshrined this gig in my memory.
Out Of Space is a legendary rave tune and was the only song to make the cut at the show from Experience. Their Law however, is a different beast. Industrial beats, metal guitars and a mantra that to any rebellious soul rings true. To be in front of Keith Flint, not 5 feet away, whilst he goaded the crowd during the chorus is a moment that will live with me forever.
I walked away from Blackpool Empress Ballroom saying that I never wanted to see The Prodigy again. It was perfect and I didn’t want to tarnish that memory.
Everything I had wanted from the band was on display on that cold night in Blackpool. A primal gigging experience with people I knew and loved all sharing a moment when the stars aligned with an amazing band at the peak of their powers once again.
As it turned out, I saw The Prodigy once more at Sonisphere Festival in 2013; they were equally as good on the big stage but that night in Blackpool in 2010 was the one. One of the finest concerts I have ever attended.
As March 2019 rolled around, the sad news emerged that Keith Flint had taken his own life. I was shocked. It felt as if a part of my childhood had died with Keith Flint. He, and The Prodigy had soundtracked my life and the songs mean a lot to me. Those songs will never die, and I will always have them to listen to.
I will always have the memories of that night in Blackpool.
It was special.
You can find more information on the concert and some pictures here.
Watch Their Law from The Prodigy’s 1996 performance at Phoenix Festival below. Just keep an eye on the crowd…