21 Apr 2019
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Gig Review: The Prodigy @ Trust Arena, Auckland - 5/02/2019

06 Feb 2019 // A review by Paul Goddard

As I walk into the huge hall at Trust Arena a few hundred people are moving front of stage to what I initially thought was just music through the PA.

Nope it is Enschway. He is from Sydney He is a DJ. He got the crowd going (eventually). It took a while for him to find his flow but when he did he got the balance just about right.

He did look a bit like one of the muppets with those blonde surfer locks caught in the lights bobbing around behind the decks and at the end of the day Enschway was always destined to be all filler in this killer of a night.

My first introduction to The Prodigy was Charly. At the time I was in a punk band so railing against anything that was classed as Rave or Indie or actually anything that wasn’t Punk. So, I kind of stubbornly ignored them although of course the song and accompanying video was hard to ignore.

Next time I noticed them was when they released Fat of The Land and more importantly Firestarter. This is where Keef Flint adopted (some say stole) the punk image. I remember him looking completely insane. The songs on that album all blew me away and I went straight into the back catalogue and have bought everything since.

For whatever reason I never saw them live when I lived in the UK. Now fast forward to 2019 and here we are in Auckland and I am ready to be blown away. Their new album No Tourists is one of their best and it is bloody hot in this aircraft hangar of a building. My sunburn is twitching. Smack my Bogansville itch up, it’s time to dance...

The energy in the room is through the roof before the band even take the stage. You can feel it. So many people have been looking forward to this moment for a long time. Almost 10 years since The Prodigy were last here.

They walk out onto the huge stage bathed in more lights than Blackpool Illuminations (I am from the UK) and immediately settle in to Breathe. Actually, settle isn't the correct word. It's like they are warming up in the first round of a long title fight. They always give 100% and you can see Keef warming up like a boxer as him and cohort Maxim dressed in a crazy fur coat prowl around the stage.

A warm blast of air from the body heat generated by the thousands of people, many shirtless increases as we get into Resonate from new album No Tourists.

The sound is deafening but crystal clear and Liam is clearly enjoying himself behind his numerous desks of equipment. Drummer Leo Crabtree does an insane job playing these tracks live.

The dual vocals on Nasty intertwine as do Keef and Maxim as they psych each other up. There is lots of onstage eye contact between band members as they keep pushing each other forward each song getting more intense. One thing you will never here at a Prodigy gig is "Ok, let's slow things down for a bit now"

Maxim and Keef constantly make direct (crazy) eye contact with the crowd and 3 songs in the place is dripping sweat.

Champions of London is a highlight for me being one of my favourites from No Tourists and then we are into Voodoo People. No major injuries yet and surprisingly few people coming over the stage barriers. The hits keep on coming and Maxim keeps hyping the crowd. We are three quarters of the way through and both band and audience are pulling on last reserves. I look around and all I see is smiling faces as Firestarter booms out. These songs don't sound dated and it is hard to believe that a band who have been around since the early Nineties can still seem so fresh and relevant today.

There was no way there wasn't going to be an encore and it's a mix of old and new closing with the polarising Smack My Bitch Up.

The lights come up as smoke clears from the stage and a cloud of steam hovers over the audience. We have all just been through an experience none of us will forget. Band and crowd gave it everything. There were no tourists here tonight and as we spill out into the world ears ringing and bodies sweating everyone is buzzing.

If you weren't here tonight you missed something special. If ever they come to NZ again do not miss out.


Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk/Zed Pics.

 

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