Not many people expect a commercial arena to be their local stomping ground. But when a band like The Prodigy kick off their UK tour at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, they were sure to bring together a medley of generations for a triumphant evening of alternative dance in the city’s biggest venue.
Hip-hop veterans Public Enemy opened the night in full swing, as Chuck D took centre stage instructing the crowd to stick their middle fingers in the air and shout “FUCK RACISM, FUCK SEPARATISM” in between jumpy classics ‘Fight the Power’ and ‘Harder Than You Think’. A group prone to provocation, all sorts of reactions can be overheard around the arena in between sets – a guy near the bar remarks to his mate “I touched Flavor Fav and he stank of weed”.
“The Prodigy’s familiar techno and industrial beats flooded to the back rows, where those who couldn’t get standing tickets were still keen to exhibit their credentials as experienced ravers.”
They left the crowd hungry for more when they stormed off the stage. The arena packed out then; from the shirtless kid on his dad’s back, to the seventy year old motley crew – this night was for anybody who grew up in the 80s, 90s, 00s or the 10s.
The familiar intro to ‘Breathe’ rushed into the sound system and the crowd erupted into a frenzy. The Prodigy’s familiar techno and industrial beats flooded to the back rows, where those who couldn’t get standing tickets were still keen to exhibit their credentials as experienced ravers.
They then launched into the band’s punkier, newer, track ‘Nasty’, before throwing it back again to freaky classic ‘Omen’. Keith Charles Flint may have a few more years on the clock than your average front man, but with his smudged eyeliner and harsh vocals, he undoubtedly dominates the stage.
‘Wild Frontier’, ‘Firestarter’, ‘Roadblox’ and ‘Rok-Weiler’ were knocked out over the next 20 minutes. With such ferocious energy, and a multitude of sensory assaults in the live arena, nobody has a second to take a breather. Truly, this is an experience beyond just listening to their music; you feel it rattle through you with every thunderous bass note, and every crashing drum fill.
“‘Invaders Must Die’ dropped into a frenzy of synth, guitars and moshpits, as sweat, sweat and more sweat poured from every frenetic body in the arena.”
Slowly the beat eased down to tease us into the prolonged intro to ‘The Day is My Enemy’. The feminine vocals raised the ceiling while the heavy beats dropped the crowd to the floor. “The voodoo, who do, what don’t dare do people” – queue the leap back to the seminal 90s techno of ‘Voodoo People’, closely followed by ‘Get Your Fight On’ which, whilst not one of the most well-known tracks from the new album, proved that the floor hadn’t lost their energy yet.
‘Run With the Wolves’ perpetuated the hysteria, as a tornado of revellers swirled around the densest part of the crowd. ‘Everybody in the Place’ – more garage than techno – played like a carnival track in the run up to the finale. Everybody needed a touch of disco.
The four words that everybody had been waiting to hear were finally proclaimed from the stage – “We are The Prodigy”. ‘Invaders Must Die’ dropped into a frenzy of synth, guitars and moshpits, as sweat, sweat and more sweat poured from every frenetic body in the arena.
“Arguably, not many bands could still sell out an arena with flagship song titles such as ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.”
There was only one track left to play. Arguably, not many bands could still sell out an arena with flagship song titles such as ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. Intensifying the crowd’s anticipation, the lights were dimmed, and the rolling fog above our heads made the waving arms across the crowd form a delirious cemetery. In the coolest move of the night, the band walked off the stage after the first verse. End of show, they said. You tease.
The encore was full of shocks and favourites, including a surprise appearance from Sleaford Mods’ frontman Jason Williamson, to feature live on their collaborative effort ‘Ibiza’. ‘Their Law’ and ‘Wall of Death’ were other tunes they decided to throw into the encore, before the big finale party ‘Take Me to the Hospital’. Every one slowly, reluctantly trickled out the stadium, happy to have celebrated the raves, the techno and The Prodigy once again.