The Prodigy embarked on the first of three sold-out nights at The O2 Academy Brixton in London last night (December 19), with the final night on the 20th/21st deliberately chosen to tie in with the end of the Mayan calendar.
With a 3am curfew, the band didn’t take to the stage until after midnight. Employing the services of live drummer Leo Crabtree and guitarist Rob Holliday, a feature of the latter-day live sets, the big beat collective, originally from Braintree, Essex, drew on a wealth of material spanning their 20- year recording history.
Playing throughout under a subdued red light with the words “Warriors: Welcome To The Scene Of The Crash” emblazoned on the backdrop – a lyric lifted from ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ from their ‘Invaders Must Die’ album – the show had an apocalyptic feel.
The band entered to a long introduction of mostly feedback before breaking into ‘Voodoo People’, with Maxim appearing prominently at the front of the stage, his head covered in a snood, which he quickly took off to reveal a muscle vest, black shorts with red stripes and leggings. Keith Flint soon lost his WWII bomber jacket to also reveal a white vest and his trademark prizefighting white belt.
“All my people here,” invoked Maxim before ‘Jetfighter’, “All my people in Brixton tonight, this shit’s going to another level.” Maxim’s patter was familiar throughout. “All my people up top!” he shouted before ‘Breathe’ pointing to the gallery at Brixton Academy, “All my fucking warriors here on the floor!”
Liam Howlett, founder of the group, was least conspicuous, hiding behind four laptops and what looked like a stack of routers. The lighting made it difficult to see him, though strobes during ‘Omen’ revealed Maxim’s warpaint. At the MC’s behest, the whole crowd began jumping in unison during ‘Poison’, while guitarist Rob Holliday stole a cymbal from the drumkit and inexplicably threw it off stage.
Visibility became better during ‘Firestarter’, with Keith Flint coming to prominence for the first time to huge applause. “We’re so fucking twisted”, he sang as a refrain during the track. “Brixton fucking Academy, you fucking know what to fucking do!” he shouted swearily before ‘Run With The Wolves’.
Following a rousing ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, The Prodigy left the stage only to return to do an encore with five songs, the aforementioned ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ to start and to end a celebratory ‘Out Of Space’.
The band play two more shows, billed as “Warriors: An End of the World Extravaganza”, with support from acts including Jaguar Skills, South Central, Caspa and AraabMuzik.
The Prodigy played:
‘Run With The Wolves’
‘World’s On Fire’
‘Invaders Must Die’
‘Smack My Bitch Up’
‘Take Me To The Hospital’
‘Out Of Space’