Vulgar, garish and perfectly old skool: Keith, Liam and Maxim are back and as incendiary as ever. Cardiff International Arena, Sunday, April 5
We’re under attack. An incredible onslaught of noise. The sound of missiles, choppers, shelling: boom boom boom. Strobe lights disorientate us, the smell of smoke and adrenaline thick in the nostrils, hellish screaming all around. Bare-chested men stomp and charge in all directions while women writhe as if possessed. It’s like a Hieronymus Bosch painting in here, or at least Gavin And Stacey Go To Hell. It’s gloriously diabolical, and the three shamanic men at the centre of this Pandemonium have the look of hellhounds feeding on good Christian meat.
The Prodigy are undoubtedly in league with the devil. They’ve barely aged despite each being 200 years old. Their new album, ‘Invaders Must Die’, was an unexpected triumph and sold 200,000 copies within two weeks. This arena tour has sold out. Why has this happened? Why are The Prodigy huge again? Luciferian machinations are at work, that’s for sure, and in fact we’ll go further. We have a theory: The Prodigy are heralding the end of the world. Not to be alarmist, but if the rumbling Terminator music that opens the album and runs throughout tonight isn’t the pealing of trumpets accompanying the opening of the Seventh Seal then it’s at least the sound of approaching, unholy war. The opening song it gives way to is called ‘World’s On Fire’, for pity’s sake. Liam Howlett air-strikes musical napalm into the crowd while Maxim Reality and Keith Flint act like Colonel Kurtz on glue. ‘Their Law’ is an assault by Driller Killer, ‘Breathe’ an ambush by avenging samurais. And in response to this attack people are going nuts. We all deserve this. We’ve been bad. Humanity must be punished for the way we’ve fucked things up. This is Judgement Night.
Next single ‘Omen’ is addictive fury, ‘Poison’ hardly a respite, newie ‘Warrior’s Dance’ a choke-hold of a song. And then things get really heavy. Flinty’s suddenly alone centre-stage, lit from below with green light, leering grotesquely, and ‘Firestarter’ begins. It’s still utterly thrilling, both punkish and puckish, with yer man punching out at his demons. When they’re banished, he offers out the whole crowd. “C’mon then, you fucks! What the fuck you gonna do about it?” he asks as sweetly as Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth. He then delivers two muscular songs from ‘Invaders…’, ‘Run With The Wolves’ and ‘Thunder’ with such tigerish physicality that the audience seem close to collapse. But then respite.
Maxim returns, ‘Voodoo People’ starts, and the atmosphere shifts. It’s like the burning fire has gone, we have survived, and as the newly cleansed we can party like God’s chosen ones.
Yeah, there is another theory about why The Prodigy are huge again, and one that isn’t lifted from Ghostbusters. It’s that people just want to cut loose and rave again. Scenesters are going mad for post-Klaxons electro-disco euphoria, while Justice and Pendulum supply the mainstream. The Prodigy have become idols again, at that all-inclusive, all-ages level. More amazingly, their metal-rave still packs a more solid punch than any of their younger rivals. Tonight, they rival The Stooges for pure tribal catharticism.
The encore of ‘Invaders Must Die’, then ‘Diesel Power’, then ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, has the crowd jumping out of their skins. They end with the pure rave of ‘Out Of Space’, which brings the euphoria again. But it’s aggression and violence which defines The Prodigy now, and in these troubled times it makes them the band of the moment. Apocalypse now, coming to a city near you soon.