LIVE: The Prodigy – Brixton Academy, London, 21/07/2022

The greatest live band in history?

Whenever this discussion is had, The Prodigy is one name that often comes up. Their firebrand mix of danceable beats, punk guitars and high-energy attitude creates a unique live experience that few can match.

Of course, in the wake of vocalist Keith Flint‘s still-incomprehensible suicide in 2019, we wondered if we would ever get to see this mighty machine in their natural environment again. Nobody could have blamed them if they had decided to call it a day, after 30 years of doing it.

The announcement of a 10-date UK tour, then, was certainly a cause for celebration. For many, maybe, an opportunity to say a proper cathartic goodbye to Flint, while also celebrating the incredible band that he was part of.

For their London run, it had to be Brixton. Sure, they could have sold out Wembley Arena, but Brixton is objectively the best live venue on the planet, and some of The Prodigy’s most famous nights have been here. For them, delivering the maximum experience without compromise has always been everything.

Liam Howlett once said that the albums were never the focal point for this band – they were merely a soundtrack for the live experience. For a band that had six UK number one albums, without ever signing to a major label, that’s a pretty telling statement.

We talked to a chap before the show who had travelled from Estonia to be here. That’s a measure of the devotion this band elicits.

As if the crowd isn’t ramped up enough, a quite brilliant DJ set from Jaguar Skills gets the party going. Appropriately, he mixes the rock of Queen of the Stone Age and Sex Pistols with the drum and bass of Hedex and old dance classics like Underworld. On a different night, we could quite happily have watched him work all night.

Tonight, though, is all about The Prodigy, and the opening bars of ‘Breathe’‘ are goosebump-inducing. ‘Omen’ is explosive, and ‘Voodoo People’ creates a sea of bouncing bodies from front to back.

One nice feature tonight is how Liam Howlett fills the gaps between songs with little snippets of other tracks from the band’s back catalogue. A short burst of the sumptuous layers of ‘Climbatize’ offers a nice early respite for some of the old-time Prodigy warriors who maybe haven’t seen a moshpit in a while.

The big question of the night, of course, is how the band approach ‘Firestarter’. They do it perfectly. A laser image of Flint appears above the stage, and the band play a shortened version without vocals. “He’s still right here with us,” Maxim Reality says at the end, and the crowd chant Keith’s name. It is a wonderfully poignant tribute, and for many of us, a measure of closure.

Maxim does an incredible job of running the show. What always made The Prodigy stand out is the sheer energy of the performance, and tonight is no different. Where other electronic artists hide behind the decks and rely on fancy lighting to make it a visual experience, the members of The Prodigy are always front-and-centre. The lighting effects are incredible too, of course, but they are an enhancement, not the focal point. The live drums and guitars are fabulous too.

Above all, what makes this a special live experience is the vibe that it creates. There is an incredible joy in the building. No artist has ever managed to unite the ravers, the punks and the metalheads in the way that The Prodigy have, and we see it in abundance tonight. Each group bring their own particular elements into the building, a curious melting pot that mirrors the music of the band in front of them. It feels like being a part of it is expanding everyone’s horizons.

The greatest live band in history? Open to debate, but they should definitely be in the conversation. The greatest live EXPERIENCE in history? This one, they 100% have locked down.

Long live The Prodigy.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.