The classic “if it ain’t broke” phrase will always apply to The Prodigy and their exemplary live experience. The genre-bending rave that the UK trio have been tweaking and perfecting for decades makes for one of the most explosive, frenetic and intense live music experiences one can have.
That’s always been the case. And it’s why The Prodigy remain one of the few bands in the world that offer something any fan would want to experience again, and again, and again. I doubt I’m alone on the list of people who have vowed to never miss one of their sets, wherever possible. I made that decision years ago, and this current tour marked the seventh time I’ve given myself over to the religious experience of being shouted at by Maxim and Keith while Liam tinkers in the background, creating mammoth walls of sound that are so big it’s hard to believe there are just three people in the band (they, of course, have others on stage with them).
If you’ve seen them before, you know what to expect. And that’s the highest praise possible. While there will always be minor tweaks, and set additions (and omissions) based on which album they are touring, The Prodigy is by and large a reliable musical entity that will never change the way they do things. The experience they offer is still that gut-punching hypnotic rave and crunchy rock, folded into each other in dense layers of big, stadium-worthy productions that grab, shake and slap the shit out of whatever venue they so happen to be in. Even a grossly undersold Qudos Bank Arena – Sydney’s largest arena – proved no match for the blunt force reverberating through the space, fuelled mostly by Maxim’s prominent commands.
Though rigidity defines The Prodigy’s live experience across generations, there’s no mistaking Liam’s willingness to reshape and redefine some of their biggest hits to squeeze them in amongst newer material. Their latest album, No Tourists, is very much a return to the spasmodic rave the band became known for in their earlier years, contrasting with the polished pop structures of 2009’s Invaders Must Die. As such, the set as a whole was much more biased towards the sound of No Tourists, sacrificing fan favourites like sonic-cocaine anthem “Their Law” and the bouncy “Spitfire”, and favouring oldies like “No Good (Start the Dance)” that fit in with newbies like “Need Some1” and “Light Up the Sky”.
Though it wasn’t all candy-coloured rave. Set opener “Breathe” was still very much the sinister beast it has always been; “Firestarter” was mostly kept in-line with previous performances (even if Keith seemed a little tired to fully commit), and “Smack My Bitch Up” was as it always is. The rest, including classics “Voodoo People”, finale “Out of Space”, and the aforementioned “No Good (Start the Dance)” had noticeable embellishments that brightened the soundscapes. It kept things flowing nicely, grabbing onto rhythms and milking the power out of them before moving onto the next with blistering precision.
Though the same type of success and anticipation The Prodigy once enjoyed seems to be behind them, there’s little that can stop the band when they are in their element. This is still one of the best shows offered by any live music act in history, period. No one else can do what these guys do, and like a favourite high-speed roller coast, it’s always one hell of a ride. It wasn’t the best show I’ve seen for them – mainly due to the set list, leaving out songs which play to their strengths and show their versatility – but my “see them live every chance I get” commitment is still very much in-tact.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Champions of London
Run with the Wolves
The Day Is My Enemy
Everybody in the Place
Light up the Sky
No Good (Start the Dance)
Take Me to the Hospital
We Live Forever
Smack My Bitch Up
Out of Space
The writer attended this show on 2nd February 2019.
Photo from their live show in Melbourne by Rebecca Houlden. Full gallery can be found HERE.