Live @ Manchester Evening News 23/11/2005
Prodigy; over the last fifteen years have spearheaded the UK dance scene and are largely responsible for bringing it out of the car parks and into the charts. Born of the early rave years, when people used to drive to a service station to party all night, the Essex based four piece took it upon themselves to make music that perfectly reflected the ecstasy fuelled musical revolution of the times. This achievement alone wasn't enough, Prodigy used their punk roots to win over the rock crowd and build more song-writing into their sound. Prodigy have also had number one records and won the hearts of the pop audience too. With a couple of seminal Glastonbury performances under the belt the band have also toured America with much success and have been a true British export in the way the 70's rock giant were.
On entering the Manchester Evening News and making my way to the bar I noticed all the bottles in the fridge were clattering. I have never seen or heard this at the MEN in all my visits there. The cause, Audio Bullies pumping out extreme low levels of bass. On entering the arena itself Audio Bullies were finishing off their set with Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang". Prodigy didn't make it onto the stage after Audio Bullies, three DJ's appeared and started pumping out classic dance anthems from Faithless to Chemical Brothers mixed in with a bit of Nirvana. The crowd was getting to fever pitch; the DJ's we really whisking everyone up into a fever. They finished off with their party piece of Rage against the Machine's Killing In The Name Of set against heavy industrial drums and bass the crowd were truly frenzied.
After a short 10 minute break the stage transformed, the arena turned blue and Maxim appeared high up on a huge stage prop and resembling the Predator. Everyone is on their feet and glow sticks start to appear from within the crowd. Keith appears and they kick off with Their Law. After all the build up and initial hysteria of The Prodigy entering the stage this was almost a let down and the crowd appeared muted in comparison to earlier events. However, the sound was awesome and everyone appeared to love it, yet you got a feeling that after the first 10 minutes of Their Law that the crowd wanted classic Prodigy and not the filler track from their best of album.
Things quickly changed when Maxim screamed "Manchester….Breathe with me". Anarchy quickly pursued, the crown was higher than they had been all night, every single person in the arena was going crazy, bass was so deep your internal organs felt like they were going to instantly liquefy. Then came Spitfire which again put a dampener on the night, it just didn't get the crowds approval. But this was the last time anyone looked back, Spitfire was followed quickly by Poison, Firestarter and Voodoo People. Poison was filled with blood curdling screams from Keith. Firestarter was perfect, although Keith looked like he wasn't in a fit state (he was pouring with sweat after the first 5 minutes of the gig, probably because he looks like he has been at the pies) he definitely hasn't lost it or his worryingly convincing psychopathic, phased out, bad acid trip persona. The persona was all the more convincing with his new hair which was long black hair on one side of his head while the side of the his head was bald. Voodoo People was one of the biggest tracks of the night, played with the venom everyone has come to expect from Prodigy. It's also great to hear the old tracks brought up to date with bigger than life sounds and heaps of bass.
After the epic performance of Voodoo People the Prodigy left the stage. The crowd made a huge amount of noise to the point the arena felt like it was shaking. At this point I had a look around the arena to see what sort of people where in attendance. There were lots of glow stick waving Ravers trying to eek out every last drop of energy from their body, a few rocker types and the odd very old bloke scattered around the place.
They arrive back on stage and start with "Out of Space", well they did until they stopped.
A huge jeer came from the audience. Maxim starts screaming and shouting "Manchester… Do you want more" and going on with that routine, the audience goes with it and make a suitably deafening noise when without warning Smack My Bitch Up starts up. Well there is a caveat here, there may have been something before but by this point I had been completely sucked in and didn't really care about remembering track sequence. And for good reason, this was the single maddest moment of the night. It was the one track everyone in the audience went absolutely nuts for and unleashed all their aggression. One section of people standing in the stands around the edge of the arena turned into a human waterfall as some scrambled to raid the stalls while others just lost their footing. This madness was shortly followed by some old classics for the ravers which took the high to all new levels Jericho and Charlie Say's and they finally finished off with Out of Space.
Who said dance music is dead!!!