The Prodigy: live review from Szigit Festival, Hungary
There’ a riot going on.
Not the anarchy on the streets 2011 version but the old school version.
The noisy freak show is in town and the band, armed to the teeth with high energy noise are totally communiacting with its huge audience. Dust,sweat and high decibel chaos are causing meltdown.
The Prodigy are a celebration of all that is great about pop music. They have the high decibel noise thing down, they make truly weird and wonderful songs that they play like the toughest hardcore band in the world and they look cool as fuck – like a cartoon strip cranked on the darkest drugs drooging out on the stage- a total rush of insane and lunatic energy.
Basking in the sun of the almost perfect Sziget festival in Budapest, it’s been a long and and hot day of great music and ideas. It’s an unusual experience if your British to be running around in the sun at a festival and not wading through the putrid slime of the churned up filth of Farmer Giles pastures – there are less of the usual indie fare that most British festivals serve up.
How do you top a day like this?
You call in the Prodigy.
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the band play live but we go back a long way. Infact they once headlined a big gig in Macedonia that I played with Goldblade. They were good guys, mental and down to earth like all great punk rock bands, and tore it up that night 15 years ago.
At the time they were at the top of their game, the hippest group in the world with a number one album in 20 plus countries and their signature songs ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Breathe’ were at number one in the charts with huge slabs of techno, punk rock filth, noise. They were challanging and clever in ways that have never been propery acknowledged.
The perfect band for their times – combining the insolence of the Sex Pistols with the communal rush of rave, since then they have seemingly retreated – their albums are all excellent but don’t quite dominate the landscape like they once did but live…
Live they are a machine. Within seconds of the band hitting the stage you are totally blown over by their sheer raw power, I’d forggoten how effective they were. Liam’s bank of electronics builds up the beats with drums and guitar pounding on top whilst Maxim is the key MC, almost taking over the frontman role. He looks cartoon cool, covered in tats and his face painted white- hollering at the 40,000 audience cajouling them, which he doesn’t need to do as the crowd are exstatsic from the first heavily treated note.
Fellow frontman Keith is still the rave generation comic strip answer to the punk freak droogs of the late seventies. He has that dressing like a neo clown and looking cool thing nailed down. Like a villian from a batman film he is a larger than life prescence and if his voice is fucked from the band’s intense touring scehdule he sill manages enough vocals to make the show work. His rasping drawl is one of the great signatures of nineties British pop music and his charismatic presence on the band’s videos helped to define the time.
If anything age has added an edge to his performance and he looks leaner and hungrier as he pounds the stage, the perfect foil to Maxim.
The pair of them have an enormous personnae that towers above the dustbin indie bands that fill up a lot the festivals nowadays. The Prodicgy learned pretty fast that larger than life was the key and it’s a largeness that comes not only from their performance but also their music which is buit to make a huge crowd party in the most intense way possible. Somehow they have managed to take the scale and scope of metal and the brutal rush of primetime hardcore as well as the huge bass banging on the one of techno and rave and create this ultimate party machine. They sound supertough like the best rock band in the world and that’s the key to their crossover- the way that they utilise every rebel music that ever existed and turn it into a machine like whole .
They also fuck with the music, so what if Liam is making most of the sound with his electronics, he’s stripping down, building up and changing the songs as he goes along, this is about as live as the digital can get and it’s brutally effective. I don’t remeber Firestarter sounding this mesmerising or huge, the same for Posion, they may do a lot of the same songs as they did years ago but they have morphed and changed them so much they are almost like brand new songs.
The live Prodigy are still ahead of the game. They are still fast forwarding to the future like they did with when their first single ‘Charlie’ came out, a brilliant piece of rave pop, it already had that tough edge but it also had that brand new beat that marked Liam out as the rave whizz kid…the real Prodigy.
The band are locked into this groove now, turn up at a festival, headline and creatze a meltdown, they are one of the best rock bands in ther world and are as punk as fuck, they broke all the rules and made some of hardest, weirdest records to ever get to number one and they take this deranged, heavy nightmare cartoon of filthy, raw power round the world to every festival you can think of and totally tear it up.
That’ a total victory in these musically sensible times.