Review by Smitt, www.bbc.co.uk:
Maxim and Keith rolled onto the stage looking like Baron Samedi and a lunatic chinese-hell escapee, the crowd surged and the music began.
So the great-granny-scaring, Daily Mail-baiting cross-over dance act once again strode through the second city, this time at the NIA, a much larger venue than their previous brummy gig at Birmingham’s Carling Academy. A ‘greatest hits’ tour at this point in a band’s lifetime signals either the beginning of the end or simply the beginning of the next chapter in their career. Based on Friday’s performance I’d gladly gamble it means the latter.
It looked like the crowd was at full capacity when Howlett strutted onto the stage and raised his arms to greet us, and all doubts cast by a luke-warm (up) performance by the Audio Bullys began to fade. Then Maxim and Keith rolled onto the stage looking like Baron Samedi and a lunatic chinese-hell escapee, the crowd surged and the music began.
They kicked it off with ‘New Intro’ and ‘Wake Up Call’ and there was a rush forward, but it wasn’t until ‘Their Law’ that the NIA really started to feel full with The Prodigy. It was actually a very simple live show, no trickery. This wasn’t Kiss or Spinal Tap, just a mixing desk for Liam to hide behind, a guitarist and two guys running around the stage. Maxim maintained his persona as the crowd controller issuing dire warnings, threats and visions of what was to come (“I don’t want to see anyone standing still” “This is for all the Voodoo People”). Keith meanwhile bounced and zig-zagged across the stage front in what wasn’t so much a dance as a visual elemental of what The Prodigy sound like.
The set can really only go one way, but wasn’t as heavy on the old classics as one would have predicted. A full spread of tracks brought everything from the old school late rave classic ‘Jericho’ to new school hit ‘Spitfire’ and there were clear pockets in the crowd who had favourite albums, the Jilted Generation being the most prevalent. Some tracks were given some serious live treatment, and a couple – such as ‘Voodoo People’ and ‘Firestarter’ – were the ’05 mixes which seemed to throw some of the crowd off kilter a little before they settled into them.
Now that the fans have had plenty of time to decide on favourites from Always Outnumbered the band knows which tracks are liked and which ones to leave (and ‘Baby’s Got a Temper’ was noticeable by its absence, perhaps I’m the only person who doesn’t hate it). New tracks like ‘Back 2 School’ were given a great treatment which allowed the crowd to get into them and sing along.
The strangest thing about the NIA was the use of the Arena seating: the Prodigy don’t do ‘sitting down music’ and although there was never any doubt they would fill a place of that size the fact that about a third of the people at the gig were seated meant that a third of the people had missed the point. Perhaps though they can fill places like the NIA the Prodigy’s stage presence is best felt at point-blank range. Maxim’s promise to the balcony in the second half of the set that “I’ve not forgotten you” was well meant but paper-thin.
The third and final act of the set arrived in the form of the encore and for a moment it looked like they wouldn’t come back on at all, despite not yet having played much from The Experience album. But they didn’t let us down, they bounded back onto the stage for a slightly slowed, perfectly paced for jumping version of ‘Poison’ and then they gave the crowd what they wanted for a climax in the form of ‘Charly’ and ‘Out of Space’.
Maxim and Keith seemed pleased with the effect they had though Keith did fewer vocals than usual, considering how prevalent he is on Fat of the Land. But Maxim’s thanks to the crowd (“That was from the heart”) felt genuine and as they left the stage the crowd surge finally died off and on that night in Birmingham there was no doubt that The Prodigy came, saw and delivered Their Law.
2. Break and Enter
3. Wake The Fuck Up
4. Their Law
6. Hotride (El Batori Mix)
9. Back 2 Skool
11. Action Radar Link
13. Claustrophobic and We Are The Ruffest Link
14. No Good (Start the Dance)
15. Voodoo People
16. Climbatize Link
18. Diesel Power Beats
19. Smack My Bitch Up
21. Out of Space