It’s all about that bass. From set-opener ‘Breathe’, Rob Holliday’s vicious throbbing and Liam Howlett’s beats and amen breaks mesh 90s rave anthems into warehouse-shaking riffs that jolt your arm hairs and shudder through your feet.
“The album took a year to write. I don’t know what I was doing for the other five. I can’t remember” – Liam Howlett, interviewed by GoldenPlec pre-show.
And right now, we can’t remember the last few years either. The Prodigy’s energy is such that the hedonism of their flamboyant peak sticks its yellow-faced smiley head above the parapet and launches into the most brazen displays of controlled aggression the 3Arena is likely to come across outside of a bludgeoning metal act. It’s barely controlled aggression mixed with epic dance anthems, and it takes you flying back.
“We’re 100% original rave power, and proud,”
Howlett told us. In a live setting, ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ – somewhat mediocre on record, especially when you discount the bitter incursion of Sleaford Mod’s frontman Jason Williamson on Ibiza – is just that. It’s built to suit nights like this, missing out Ibiza because Williamson’s not there to provide the flourish, going instead for a healthy mash of classics and newbies. This isn’t about hits, it’s about flow.
Breathe flows into Nasty, which sounds considerably less like an angry teenage anthem when it’s surrounded by retina-threatening lights and delivered like there’s somehow seventeen hours of throbbing nightlife to come before morning, and this is just the brazen kick off party.
Voodoo People is every bit the dancefloor filler we remember, peaking with that five-bleep chorus that requires a wordless sing-along. Get Your Fight On has circles drawn on the arena floor, and Omen sounds extra dark, dense and brooding.
Keith Flint, of course, is chaosmaster in chief. He moves around stage like he’s still stomping the tunnels of that Firestarter video, a cross between the Incredible Hulk and a spitting devil. He looks like he’s on the edge of losing the plot, like his stage has been invaded by cockroaches and if he moves around it quickly and heavily enough he’ll turn them into a sprawling heap he can chant from atop.
The new isn’t as good as the classics, but when is it. How many bands can claim to sit atop their genre on arena stages even after their point of origin has disintegrated to almost nothing beneath them.
In their better moments, The Prodigy are like Pendulum playing Slam on one relentless, morphing loop. If that sounds shit, you’d be wrong. You just need to dance like Slam’s fat man, blinded by the swirl of dozens of laser spotlights and exchanging old-school dance-shape jabs with the lad three inches to your right.
An encore of Firestarter and Invaders Must Die threatens to see the dancefloor churned up like a field in Hampshire; the whole experience is relentless, in your face, and frankly doesn’t belong on a Monday night. But someone has to get the odd evenings, and it works anyway.
“I don’t hear any genre when I listen to music, I just hear fire” – Howlett.
We hear fire too. It burns in a band clearly born for the stage. A band that will barely pause to address the audience; who’d rather just keep up that relentless rhythm. In a band that’s clearly put thought into their (phenomenal) pre-show DJ, their stage layout and building their set to hit peaks just when they’re needed. The fire’s still here. Long may it burn.