The Prodigy

The Guardian Weekly - - Culture Reviews - Graeme Virtue

In an era when mem­o­ries can be mon­e­tised, most bands – ac­tive or oth­er­wise – might hun­grily eye the 20th an­niver­sary of their most suc­cess­ful al­bum as an op­por­tu­nity to mount a spe­cial tour to shore up their legacy and top up their bank bal­ances. Not so the Prodigy, Liam Howlett’s tetchy but tire­less road warriors whose The Fat of the Land came out in 1997. Af­ter yet an­other year of fes­ti­val dates across Europe and be­yond came a short UK sprint, in­clud­ing this show at Glas­gow Academy.

A scrawled back­drop of ur­ban blight and barbed wire is il­lu­mi­nated by spin­ning red po­lice bea­cons and gi­gan­tic roam­ing search­lights; the de­fault vol­ume level is air-raid siren. The band kick off with the an­gu­lar ar­cade-game squeals and clat­ter­ing drums of Omen and nei­ther the racket nor en­ergy lev­els let up for al­most two hours of tooth-rat­tling pan­de­mo­nium.

The core trio of Howlett, rap­per Maxim and ag­gro-jester Keith Flint are now men aged from 46 to 50, yet they still look as if they could walk straight into a cy­ber­punk movie. Flint and Maxim – pic­tured above – prowl the stage with prac­tised caged-pan­ther men­ace. On the queasy fun­house blast of Nasty they en­er­get­i­cally trade lines and goad each other with grins.

While Prodigy records de­liver re­li­ably im­pres­sive front­loaded sales – if you in­clude a 2005 great­est hits, they have notched up six UK No 1 al­bums in a row – they have al­ways been live spe­cial­ists. Older hits are tossed into the setlist like grenades. The toy­town techno of Ev­ery­body in the Place ig­nites a rabid wave of rav­ing; a rel­a­tively early out­ing for Firestarter shakes the Academy’s bal­cony. Newer songs are bat­tered and bolted into more an­gu­lar shapes to bet­ter fit the whole. On record, the ti­tle track from their 2015 al­bum The Day Is My En­emy is a domino line of tribal drums with a keen­ing Martina To­p­ley-Bird vo­cal soar­ing on top. Live, it is now ar­mour-plated with heavy rock riffs.

Is there any po­lit­i­cal mes­sage within the delir­ium? The Prodigy’s story will al­ways be as­so­ci­ated with the rave-in­hibit­ing Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Act and the ag­gres­sion baked into their mu­sic has of­ten felt like protest: he­do­nis­tic with a hint of malev­o­lence.

Be­fore a thrilling fi­nal salvo, there is an ef­fort to squeeze in ma­te­rial from their sev­enth al­bum, due to be re­leased later this year. But per­haps the best way to sam­ple it will be once the high­lights have been fully grafted into their live reper­toire. That is the fate of a road band, but it it’s s re­mark­able that the Prodigy can still gen­er­ate and ex­pertly chan­nel this much en­ergy. y. Tour­ing Rus­sia and nd Europe from March

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