The Prodigy Live at The Marquee, Cork, 2nd July 2014
The Prodigy are a singular act within popular music. Following a string of early-nineties underground hits, such as Charly and Everybody In The Place, they emerged as a heavy-but-marketable electronic act. They escaped the rave scene and exploded into the public consciousness via singles (and childhood-scarring music videos) such as Firestarter and Breathe. Their adrenaline-fuelled beats with a punk snarl were a gob of spit at the saccharine sugar-pop that dominated the late-nineties charts.
Over two decades on and they still remain relevant; amongst all the lowest-common-denominator EDM and faux-folk. The release of a new Prodigy record is still a minor seismic event in alternative music. Their latest album featured Dave Grohl – maybe the ultimate litmus test for rockstar credibility.
The revellers parade down Cork’s South Mall toward the Marquee, and it is encouraging to see the whole spectrum of music fandom is here, from pop-lovers to metal heads. More notably, it is a solid mix of young and old – folks who’ve been followed the band from the beginning and those who’re just about old enough to get in.
Support from Mullingar’s Gamadon is received warmly by the crowd, as is DJ Arveene until his extended set pushes anticipation levels to the limit, and by the time the Essex boys don the stage the atmosphere in the tent has reached breaking point.
The opening riff of Breathe rachets up the tension even higher until the beat kicks in and Cork’s Marquee becomes a mess of limbs and smiling faces.
The as-yet-unreleased Jetfighter is quickly followed by a heavily aggressive rendition of Voodoo People. Omen and Poison are met with equal praise, underlining the fact that The Prodigy are not just here to bang out the hits. Midway through the set we are introduced to AWOL Beats, an as-of-yet unreleased track that fits Liam Howlett’s recent description of their upcoming album as “violent-sounding”. Midway through the set, PA problems seem to be muffling the sound coming from the stage, though this is righted after two or three songs, to cheers from the crowd.
Maxim Reality leaves the stage for a moment, during which Keith Flint holds court with a blistering version of Firestarter. Run With The Wolves is followed by the glorious, airplane-crashing-into-your-face boom of Spitfire’s opening. Set-closer Smack My Bitch Up is a rapturous few minutes of sheer fun, and would have capped the night of perfectly, but of course the encore wasn’t long coming. Their Law gets one of the biggest cheers of the night before the bands leaves with ‘Invaders Must Die’ B-side, Comanche.
But it is the encore’s opener that has to be the high point of the night. Take Me To The Hospital is a raucous aural attack that threatens to tear down the Marquee. The crowd, who’ve been appreciative all night, collectively lose their minds for a few minutes and across the sea of bodies, fans old and new can be seen revelling in joy of the most serotonin-sapping sort.
The masses throng out of the Marquee and back toward the rebel city, safe in the knowledge that, despite the tidal-shifts in mainstream music since their inception, The Prodigy are still not only relevant, but important. A unique act, both live and on record.