Prodigy just completed their sold out UK Arena tour following the Invaders Must Die release and, wow, what can I say, it was a truly great great tour. I managed to head to 6 out of the 11 shows (Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton, 2 Wembley shows and Brixton Academy), but you can find reports from fans from all 11 shows on the nekosite forum UK tour thread: http://www.nekozine.co.uk/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1238756772
The Shows I went to
I have to say that, after I had been to 7 of the club shows in Europe earlier this year I was a bit sceptical of these huge arena shows! After the intimate venues of approximately 1k people in the audience, how would it work with 10k? But, as always, I was looking forward to it massively.
Manchester was my first one, but actually already 5 gigs into the tour for the band. And, like always when I haven’t seen them for a while (well, two weeks since Miami in this case), once more it all just blew me away. Even after having seen The Prodigy something like 150+ times live, it is still a huge event for me every time.
More about the set list later, but Manchester was unfortunately also the first night they replaced Thunder. Since they placed Thunder for the first time in New York (like Liam had promised in the interview) I managed to go to every show they did not play it. But instead we got Wind It Up! I went out with friends until something stupid like 5am in the morning afterwards so next day in Nottingham still had a huge hangover by the evening. I am so used to loud music but when you have a headache they are just so loud. Still, loved every minute of it too. And they played Jericho!
So Out of Space, Death of the Prodigy dancer, Wind it Up and Jericho makes four tracks of Experience on this tour. This makes me think back at the interview I did with Liam in 2004 where we first breached the subject of whether he would potentially ever play anything from Experience, months before they then started adding Out of Space to their set list! This is quite amusing to read now:
Next for me was Brighton, headed down in the late afternoon with two friends and were hanging around seaside pubs until making our way to the venue around the time of Dizzee Rascal’s last song. The venue was Brighton Centre and a bit smaller than the others on this tour, but so so hot! I was still hoping at that point Prodigy would play Thunder again but again that didnt happen. Jericho again though made more than up for it.
Next was one day off and then two shows in Wembley followed by Brixton Academy. Prodigy playing Wembley initially just sounded so wrong to me! Wasn’t their spiritual ‘home’ in Brixton? (although I usually find North London much more pleasant than south of the river, but that’s a different story…) So I somehow had some doubts as it just wasn’t the same as Brixton. But then they played and it was huge. I don’t know what it was with the band, but there was certain energy that just gave them that extra bit that made both those Wembley shows just even better than the previous shows on the tour. They just seemed in top form.
The last gig on the tour then was a late show in Brixton. Oh my god. I don’t know, but truly think this was the best gig I have ever been to. By that point I was exhausted an tired from going out late after both of the Wembley shows, but the Brixton gig brought me back to life. On top of it being the greatest gig ever, they also added another track after Jericho: Rhythm of Life! I couldn’t believe it when i heard it but it was just so right and made this a very special show!
The Set List – Track by Track
The set list stayed pretty stable throughout the tour with a variation of tracks played right after Voodoo People. So here my thoughts about it, track by track!
The one most frequent criticism by Prodigy fans i hear about their live shows is always something about that their sets are too short. Well, look at this set list, how immense!! Also, there’s an argument that if you really really are into it and dance along, you will only last a certain amount of time! And for those who are still counting the minutes, it’s actually usually a good 90 minutes….
Each of the shows started with a brief intro that led directly into WORLDS ON FIRE. It’s a great track which I like as a live track too, but i find it somehow still a bit difficult as an opener. It takes me just that bit longer to get into the gig, unlike for example with when they had Wake the Fuck Up to open. So, while I like Worlds on Fire, it is in my view probably the least strong live track out of the new album.
Next on is THEIR LAW. I’ve always said this is my favorite track ever and it still is. It has always also been my favorite live track but I have to say that now, with all the new material I am actually not so sure anymore! The jury is still out, but some of these new tracks are definitely in the running for my own personal best of list of live tracks. Their Law is what wakes me up though and really gets me into things and I dont think this tune should ever get dropped from the Prodigy’s set list. It is still played in it’s same form as ever, which is just the right thing to do.
BREATHE is then next. I’m no longer hugely into Firestarter as a live track and Breathe was in danger of following the same path in my view, but the track has been saved by the addition of the BREATHE DUB STEP version. Downtempo and somewhat mellow this dub step remix just adds a fresh take on to Breathe, which I think it needed.
The first highlight of the set though for me had to be OMEN, the first single of the most recent album Invaders Must Die. At each gig this was the point where i got really really into it and started dancing along with no chance of ever stopping before the end of this gig. Already back on the European tour, and now here it’s been amazing watching the audience reaction to this fairly “new” tune and how each and every person in the room not only recognised the track but knew each and every word to it.
Those of you who follow the online world, would know that Prodigy had a vote for fans to vote for a track to be played on this tour (out of a selection). NO GOOD was the most voted track. I loved hearing No Good again in the set but, personally, i think some of the other tracks on the list would have worked better. It worked well in the arenas though where there are often more ‘casual’ fans as well who would all recognise a track like No Good (but potentially wouldn’t have known Rhythm of Life). I would have still voted for Rhythm of Life though!
POISON then next. Prodigy had briefly dropped both Poison and Their Law from the set and then quickly brought them back. Let’s hope they are here to stay, although I would probably miss Their Law even more than Poison. Poison is an all-time favorite of many hardcore fans so always get a huge reaction. It’s more downtempo than a lot of the rest of the set, but still there’s usually everyone jumping and dancing to this. I think it’s also a very unique track and there isn’t another one with a similar vibe to replace it.
WARRIORS DANCE is next. I am still thinking back just 11 months ago, at the club shows in May 08, they played this for the first time and gave us the first glimmer of hope that there was a new album on the way. Just look at how much has happened since then. Especially in ‘Prodigy time’ that is just amazing. Needless to say Warriors Dance is still a huge live favorite of mine. I love the album version a lot, but it cannot match what this tune does live. So old skool, yet so new!
The next track for me is usually where i have a little rest and a quick drink. FIRESTARTER. I feel bad saying this, but I honestly just cannot get into this track anymore as a live track. I know they have to play it as it is still somewhat their biggest most recogniseably track, but if you observe the audience after the first minute or so the huge reaction from the start of the track actually dies down a bit. It would actually be interesting to see what would happen if they reverted back to playing the original version again instead of the new remix of it and whether that would make a difference?
Firestarter then leads straight into the ACTION RADAR LINK. It’s just a very brief visit to the Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned era, with no other track from that album played anymore. I alwasy liked Action Radar as a live track, now the link is barely a few beats and Keith going “A little action is all I need…”.
This then leads into what is in my opinion one of the biggest live tracks ever: RUN WITH THE WOLVES. I am still debating with myself about it but i think this has to be my favorite live track now. I love it on the album too, but again live just it is huge, from the start and follows right through. That riff! Massive! Just observe the audience during this track and coparing it with Firestarter, I would claim that Run actually get the bigger response. I still remember when I heard them play it live for the first time (which was the first time they played it) in Barcelona last October, right there I knew this was amazing.
VOODOO PEOPLE I still love very much as well and another track that is a long time favorite with fans. Ever since a few years agao they added the ‘it’s in your eyes, baby’ vocals on to it, but other than that this track still works in its true original form. A classic.
In the next spot then they played a variety of tracks, depending which show(s) on the tour you went to:
- In Cardiff they played DEATH OF THE PRODIGY DANCER. I wasn’t there but wish I was, oh man, I would have given a lot to hear this track live again!
- Then at a few next shows they played THUNDER. As I said before, I am dying to hear this live (it’s my favorite studio track on the new album) but I’ve not yet heard it.
- In Manchester then they played WIND IT UP, which came third in the fan vote. While it was amazing hearing this again, I have to say it felt and looked a bit like they didn’t really know what to do with it on stage.
- From Nottingham onwards then it was JERICHO. This worked out amazing and much better than Wind it Up. The beginning was the original leading into a second half that had been mixed up with some new beats. So so cool hearing this again. Loved it!
And as I said above, in Brixton only they also played Rhythm of Life right after Jericho. That was probably the highlight of the entire tour for me as this track had been played just once or twice in the last 12 or so years! Such a great live track!
Before the encore then COMANCHE, the live version of ‘The Big Gun Down’ on the Lost Beats EP. This is another huge favorite of mine live and not one you could ever stand still to.
After this, the band leaves, then come back for their encore.
On this tour for the first time they came back to OMEN REPRISE. Adding this instrumental to the set at this spot is pure genius. Works so well! It has that similar vibe to it that Action Radar used to have but lasts just long enough (probably not even a minute) before then leading into the full powerfull beats of INVADERS MUST DIE. And that’s another live favorite of mine (anyone still counting?). So powerful and strong, I only started to really appreciate this as a track after hearing it live.
DIESEL POWER then is next. As you would know since this spring Liam has been mixing it with this track from Pain (see the interview) and this brought just the right amount of freshness to it that it needed.
Another TFOTL era track is next then, SMACK MY BITCH UP. Nevermind what I said about Firestarter and Breathe above, SMBU is still one of my favorite live tracks ever. If only one track from TFOTL can survive in the set it should be SMBU. It always captures the audience right from the start through to the end.
Can it get any better? Yes, TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL! I remember we heard this track live for the first time on the UK tour last December and immediatly knew it was immense. It’s a great studio track as well and would be perfect single material. I love it’s space at the end of the set as well, as by that point if you’ve been dancing along you truly feel the ‘welcome to the scene of the crash’ around you…
The show then ends with OUT OF SPACE. This has been the standard ending now for a few years and still works just perfectly.
Truly great tour …So, when is the next show??!
Read more on the nekosite forum UK tour thread: http://www.nekozine.co.uk/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1238756772