The Prodigy Brixton Academy (Review)

Published 25th July 2022

To mark 25 years since the release of The Fat of the Land The Prodigy have gone back on tour playing a very limited string of UK dates in far more personal venues than the arena-scale tours of recent years. We caught them on their home turf, playing their second night at the fantastic Brixton Academy (Friday 22nd July 2022).

For many of us The Prodigy were the band that introduced us to breakbeat hardcore and acted as a gateway to the wider rave scene. So when, in March 2019, news broke of Keith Flint's death it felt like a personal blow and a loss to everyone who'd fed off his infectious energy at one of their incendiary live gigs. This tour, being the first run of live gigs since his passing had a poignant sense of the boys dipping their toes back into the live arena in his absence.

While Keith's presence was obviously missed the band tore the roof off the place with a setlist that drew on most of their albums spanning 30 years. Light Up The Sky, Poison and Everybody in the Place drew huge cheers while Maxim's insistence that everyone hit the deck during the female-vocal breakdown of Smack My Bitch Up before lauching skyward when the bass dropped will be a moment that will stick with me for a long time.

Of course, there are some tunes forever entwined with Keith's stage persona and during an instrumental version of Firestarter in particular the band did him proud; a laser projection of Keith danced above the crowd drawing a huge roar of appreciation while Maxim declared "we can't bring him back but he's with us tonight" undoubtedly bringing a lump to many throats (including this reviewer).

The crowd were a great mix reflecting the band's genre/decade-spanning careers and the atmosphere felt really inclusive - there was no gate-keeping by the older members, just a hugely warm and positive regard for the bands return. Speaking of warm, there was also no getting away from the fact that the room was already pretty toasty before the band took to the stage so temperature levels skyrocketed by the time the band played their four-track encore (We Live Forever, Take Me To The Hospital, Invaders Must Die and Out Of Space if you were wondering!)

The venue may have been smaller than we've been accustomed to but the sheer somic weight behind Liam's tunes coupled with the charisma of an on-point Maxim (plus a remarkable light show) gave proceedings a much greater sense of scale.

Special mention must also go to Jack Saunders for a phenomenal warm-up set of rock/electronic mash-ups - the added value that he brought with his enthusiasm, stage presence and obvious love of the music elevated his contribution from warm-up DJ to fully-fledged stage act in his own right.

The Prodigy have long been regarded as one of the finest live-music experiences and on the basis of this extraordinary evening won't be relinquishing that crown any time soon.

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