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The Prodigy @ The Academy

By Sarah Hinksman & Simon White
The Prodigy - Birmingham Academy - Thursday 2 December 2005

Some years ago I used to holiday with a group of friends with, shall we say, diverse musical tastes. The discussions about the choice of in-car sounds between fans of goth, dance, rap and metal were both fierce and sarcastic. And The Prodigy was the only compromise.

This genre-busting band burst onto the stage at the Birmingham Academy to deliver 80 minutes of blinding, screeching, energised music that picked you up, shook you, and put you down none-too-gently.

The set, played to an animated 2700 capacity crowd, was a mixture of old and new, with the back history, notably such favourites as Breathe and the encore tracks Poison and Smack My Bitch Up receiving a more frenzied reception than the representations from their latest album, Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned.

As one might expect, this is a band that works well live. The opener, Wake Up Call, delivers much more than is promised by the recording. The vocalists burst onto the stage, the imposing Maxim delivering high-kicks into the air and an unblinking Keith Flint swiftly discarding a top hat. Neither look like people you'd want to meet in a dark alley at night and you might think twice about taking them home to meet your mum. On stage, they are in their element. Liam Howlett, the band's lynch-pin, remained behind the decks.

The Way It Is was successfully revamped for a live performance and male voice and provided a surprisingly dynamic build up before the closing track for the main show, Mindfields.

The performance was at its most electrifying when both vocalists shared the stage. Their styles - Maxim, ultra-cool yet playful, wandering the pit and delivering vocals with an air of detached oblivion as he is swamped by the hands of fans; Flint, body bent and eyes staring, delivering the focussed madness that is a virtual trademark - complement each other.

The mixed reception of the latest album may have put a question-mark over the ongoing ability of The Prodigy to live up to their reputation as showmen and musicians but their ability to pack venues and deliver a show of this calibre proves that they remain an act to watch.

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