There was a swarm of fans standing in the large Brixton Academy on Thursday night, a real mixed bag – old school ravers, young pop punks, middle aged trendies, the lot – so you would have thought someone in the crowd would have appreciated the Towers Of London (I hate those wankers! Z-Ed), tonight’s support band. However, it seemed that a grand total of zero was the number of fans the cock-rock band made that night, which, considering the guitar by numbers and indefinable vocals, wasn’t that much of a surprise. Even the singer’s clumsy clambering on top of a speaker did little to garner any sort of reaction from the bored onlookers.
Luckily, the DJ set that followed, in the build up to the main even, brought the entire Academy to life with booming bass and all sorts of stuff being thrown into the mix. Blur and Gorillaz merged into the White Stripes and Azzido Da Bass, and all the while the DJ’s hype man was revving the crowd up, getting them dancing, pogo-ing and generally having the good time that everyone expected in the first place.
But it was when the curtain covering the majority of the stage dropped that business really did pick up. The stage set up was simple enough – drummer on the left, Liam and his space ship like set up in the middle and guitarist on the left. The light show, as ever with the Prodigy, began as it meant to go on with a green star shining out from behind Liam as the beat kicked in. Then, to make sure the crowd really was at fever pitch, the lights went up behind the decks to reveal Keith and Maxim, in matching all black outfits, standing in cages, pumping the crowd up.
With both vocalists firmly in place in front of the musicians, the anthemic Breathe flew over the speakers, the sword wielding sound effects sparking a frenzy in the crowd, and even up on the balcony where only the faint of heart remained seated. Spitfire and Firestarter then followed, with Keith, now sporting a fetching side parting, finally getting a chance to bark out his infamous spiel. After the Maxim led-Voodoo People, Keith disappeared and emerged on the balcony, raving with the lucky few at the front, including, I might add, sweating a great deal in front of me.
At that point though, a scream from my friend made me look to the stage and, as the classic No Good kicked in, none other than Leeroy was on the stage, doing his version of Riverdance on acid, much to the delight of every single person in the crowd. His return to the group, whether permanent or simply to dance for the Brixton masses, was the highlight of the show, which was already an amazing set.
Poison slowed the proceedings down with its bouncing dub beat but the encore certainly did everything to pick the pace back up. Smack My Bitch Up was easily the loudest karaoke moment of the night and was soon followed by Maxim taking us way back when, as the cartoon sampled Charly told us not to talk to strangers. After a sharp glow stick shot to the face, I was busy dancing to the last song of the night, the song that turned everyone in the place into a Jamaican ska dancer, Outer Space.
It was a fantastic show put on by the group, the sounds, the visuals, and the inclusion once again of live musicians helped bring a raw edge to their sound. Top that all off by the return of the man who makes Bez look like a doddering old man, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a party!