The Prodigy literally fucked shit up when they came to Melbourne Arena
The dynamic duo are one of the most intense live acts to have graced this planet.
The Melbourne Arena was an incredibly weird place to hold a gig like this. It might’ve been the right atmosphere for the latest John Farnham farewell tour, but the manic intensity of this kind of electronic music generally thrives on the atmosphere offered in places like dank clubs, not the drinks-and-snacks vibe of an arena show. So, the energy in the room started out, well, a little off.
Sydney DJ Enschway and renowned Perth DJ ShockOne both tried their darnedest to bring the vibe up, but unfortunately due to both the sheer size of the venue and the volume of bodies slowly trickling into the arena, it was hard to get over the unsettled energy of people shuffling into their seats and muttering about popcorn and drink prices throughout both of their sets. The percentage of the crowd that were paying attention did their best to show appreciation, but the weird atmosphere was unavoidable and their strengths felt lost among the din.
Still, despite the odd start, the crowd were definitely warming up – even if only a little, and by the time it hit 9pm the room was full of bodies gradually shaking off a long week and beginning to move. Then the lights fell, and the collective heart rate of the audience in attendance doubled instantly. The howls of excitement in that room were down right deafening, as through the murky, smokey darkness emerged the main event, The Prodigy.
The audience clocked our conductor for the evening, Liam Howlett, crawling out from the shadows to waves of applause. Then the energy room hit a fever pitch as we all locked eyes on one of the most iconic frontman duos to emerge from the ‘90s; first, the enigmatic Maxim peering out into the darkness from under his gigantic hood like a trip-hop Skeletor. Then the moment we’d all been waiting for, the irrepressible hype-machine Keith Flint appeared, strutting across the front of stage, snarling and throwing the forks up at the front row like the cartoonish villain that he is. The Prodigy were so iconic in the ‘90s that their mere appearance on stage elicited the kind of response you would expect from a band playing their greatest hits – all they’d done was walk on stage, and the crowd were already whipped into an uncontrollable frenzy.
Then the densest of bass tones levelled the room, rattling the rafters and our chests in unison, and the band (not to be outdone by their celebrity alone) launched into their biggest song, the full-blown beast-mode banger ‘Breathe’. What felt like peak excitement only moments ago suddenly paled in comparison, as the crowd exploded in wave after wave of kinetic energy laced with a serious dose of nostalgia. Forty-year-old couples with full families and mortgages were suddenly transported back to 4am in one of their friends’ seedy basements in 1995, trying desperately to string a sentence together with some anonymous stranger over endless cigarettes until dawn.
And while the nostalgia in the air was palpable, that didn’t stop the group from spending the next hour and a half exploring every single nook and cranny of their discography, starting with their new album’s robotic riff-fest ‘Resonate’, then backing that up with 2015’s electro-punk stomper ‘Nasty’ and 2009’s electro anthem ‘Omen’. The cuts only got deeper from there, with Liam and co cutting between tracks like 1994’s unfathomably influential techno powerhouse ‘Voodoo People’ to the almost metal attack of 2009’s ‘Run With The Wolves’ with absolute ease. By the time they hit their breakthrough single, ‘Firestarter’, you could have almost crowdsurfed on the energy in the air alone.
What felt like a thousand lasers danced around the arena as the band exited stage left to the final moments of ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, returning shortly after to grace us again with a four-track encore that reached as far back as 1992’s ‘Fire’, before closing with the band’s anthem, the landmark single, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. As we all poured back into the streets to collect ourselves, all I could wonder was “who’s gonna top that show in 2019?” I’d put my money on nobody.
Lowlight: No ‘Funky Shit’.
Crowd favourite: ‘Breathe’.
Review by Joshua Turk, www.beat.com.au
5. Champions Of London
6. Voodoo People
7. Run With The Wolves
8. Need Some1
9. The Day Is My Enemy
10. The Day Is My Enemy (Bad Company UK Remix)
11. Everybody In The Place
14. Light Up The Sky
15. No Good (Start The Dance)
16. Take Me To The Hospital
17. We Live Forever
18. Timebomb Zone
19. Smack My Bitch Up