The Prodigy: Brixton Academy, London – live review

The Prodigy: Brixton Academy, London – live review

by john / Jul 25, 2022 / 0 comments
Sunday, 19 March 2023

The Prodigy honour the memory of Keith Flint with a potent performance featuring the punk energy, unstoppable songs, and dazzling light show you’ve come to expect.

Keith Flint’s silhouette appears above the Brixton Academy stage. That distinct looped guitar opening of The Prodigy’s Firestarter wails out. The screams of recognition are euphoric. And, as the big beats kick in, 5,000 very sweaty bodies move even more enthusiastically than they have all night. Some mimic the music video’s genre-defining posturing, rendered in lasers, with absolute joy. Others bounce or spin or jump or wave their arms in a state of wild abandon.

As the largely instrumental rendition fades out, vocalist Maxim verbalises what most people here tonight are already feeling: “He’s still with us.” Flint’s swaggering charisma, snarling vocals, even his prowl can’t be replaced. So The Prodigy haven’t tried to. But, as the remaining lineup (and their passionate audience) recreate one rapturous electro-punk anthem after another, we’re all remembering — and celebrating — their late singer, dancer, and most recognisable member.

The Prodigy: Brixton Academy, London – live review

Maxim, especially, rises to the occasion. Now with twice the amount of stage to cover, he’s a bona fide master of ceremonies, shouting encouragement to whip up an already wild crowd to move, mosh, cheer, or take on Flint’s lines. The rest of the time he’s singing, strutting, or high kicking alongside flamboyant touring guitarist Rob Holliday, while live drummer Leo Crabtree performs with all the visual flair of Tommy Lee. And Liam Howlett, the band’s musical mastermind trapped behind banks of keyboards and synthesisers, transforms what could easily be a hands-in-the-air celebrity DJ role into an athletic punk-rock performance.

From centre stage, and supported by the kind of dazzling light show you’d expect from The Prodigy, he leads the band through an unabating, potent set that takes in highlights from all but one of their seven studio albums. The big breakout hits from The Fat Of The Land, which turns 25 this year, all make an appearance, with still-monumental set opener Breathe and spirited instrumental Climbatize as the musical highlights tonight.

The Prodigy: Brixton Academy, London – live review

The selections from 1994’s Music For The Jilted Generation, once described by Bowie himself as “an amazing record”, are still as invigorating today: Voodoo People, and especially its double-time breakdown, incites unrestrained movement all the way to the back of Brixton Academy; Their Law, with its industrial guitar riff and soul-shaking bass, sounds positively dangerous; even as temperatures rise and more T-shirts come off, the frantic hardcore No Good (Start The Dance) is still irresistible.

The jittery Wild Frontier, menacing Roadblox, and defiant Get Your Fight On, all from The Day Is My Enemy, add danger and new sonic textures to the mix. And No Tourists’ elated Light Up The Sky and Need Some1 throw out unexpected soul curveballs amid the sirens and breakbeats.

The Prodigy: Brixton Academy, London – live review

By the time the encore rolls around, the venue feels like the surface of the sun, even though the temperature outside is closer to 20 than the 40 of earlier this week. The water hosed onto the front rows has long since evaporated. The pint cups once filled with lager, or cocktails named Space Skittles and Pink Poison, lie empty on the floor.

Yet, as The Prodigy shake into Take Me To The Hospital, the crowd sing every word of the chorus back at the stage with the same intensity that greeted Breathe over an hour ago. Invaders Must Die somehow reinvigorates tiring bodies. The title of the combative We Live Forever takes on new poignancy, even as its lyrics (“I am the oven your brains I wanna heat up; Mega, supersonic degrees; Fire, turn the flame higher”) inadvertently describe the situation inside Brixton Academy. And set closer Out Of Space, from the group’s debut album, turns into a singalong so jubilant that you can picture Flint smiling from the stage.

When announcing this tour, The Prodigy declared: “This one’s for Flinty.” They’ve done him proud.

Rating out of 11: