home the prodigy in USA 2002

las vegas & coachella

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review by neko. thanks to Anton, Damon and Elle for input.
pictures by neko & elle taghavi. please ask before you reproduce.

also check out the guest reviews

  Saturday, 27/4/02: The House of Blues, Las Vegas, USA

Las Vegas, the 'city of entertainment' is a rather unique place to be. Huge hotels with thousands of rooms and immense casinos attracting tenthousands of visitors every weekend. We're staying at a hotel called the 'Luxor', a hotel in the shape of a 20 floor pyramid with several IMAX cinemas inside. Just a 2 minute monorail ride away is the hotel Mandalay Bay next door. Mandalay Bay again is a huge hotel complex with a casino and several other attractions, including the House of Blues. Just to get an idea how huge this place is, the hotel also has an events centre inside, hosting 12'000 people and tonight Tony Hawk's skate board show with an Offspring live performance is on in there. Compared to that, the House of Blues seems small, the entrance from the casino leads to a small restaurant and the entrance to the 1800 capacity live venue.

We're of course there to see The Prodigy, it's been a while since they've played such a small venue. There's a poxy little display outside with the line-up for tonight. Some comedy show at 8pm. Then Prodigy at 11.30pm and it seems a bit unreal they'd play here. The show isn't even sold out at all, people are still buying tickets and starting to queue (or 'getting in line', as you can't say 'queue' in American). Looking at the people in the line, you notice that it's quite strange mixture of people at this 21+ only show, probably not a lot of die-hard Prodigy fans, but more just your usual Vegas tourist looking for entertainment.

We get in at 11.30pm and inside that tiny venue it seems even more unreal that Prodigy will play here. They probably haven't played such a small venue since 97, this place is just about half as big as the Astoria in London. And its not full at all, even by midnight there's probably just about 900 people there of the 1800 capacity. Some crap DJ is on. I don't know who booked this guy, but the cheesy dance shit he plays is a real pain in the ears and just in no way fits to Prodigy. By 0.30 people start getting impatient, shouting 'Prodigy, Prodigy', while the stage is still being set up. The sound the DJ is playing gets a bit better and some people start breakdancing in the club. Liam Howlett can be seen stepping out into the crowd to watch them.

01.15am then, they finally come on. We're right at the front and the stage is so close you could easily touch the stage from where we are standing. Usual start with the Army March Intro, first played by Liam and Kieron on drums, with Maxim walking onto the stage shouting 'where the hell is Las Vegas?' and getting the audience to cheer. The intro leads into the cheesy sample 'I believe that you and me last forever...' and Their Law starts with guitarist Jim Davis and Keith now also running on stage. The atmosphere in this small place is amazing, it just cannot be described. While all those huge festival shows are of course cool and nice, here you just feel the whole energy much better, you literally become a part of the whole thing. The size of the crowd is just perfect, you can be in the front row and actually still move, jump and dance as you want to. Yet there is still enough people to create a really unique atmosphere.

Their Law now leads to Trigger, and this 'new' track goes down very well indeed, the audience seem to love it. So far this seems to be the perfect gig, if there wasn't one major downside to this all: the sound absolutely sucks. I don't know if it is just where we are standing right at the front or if it is within the whole venue, but I think it is those speakers at the front that just kinda ruin the gig. A shame really.

Trigger also seems to be a start to some technical difficulties, as Maxim is forced to spend most of the track off stage. Breathe comes on, the audience reaction is immense. I am really positively surprised by the American audience here, I expected this show to be full of lazy tourists who have no clue about Prodigy and just had nothing better to do tonight than go to this show. Wrong. The audience is superb, getting completely into it, people on the balcony standing up and people shouting along. Keith and Maxim sometimes just walk into the audience and walk on the bar tables to the back of the venue and stay there for a while, which is pretty cool too!

Now I don't know for sure what happened here, but I think it's again some technical difficulties that force them to skip the downtempo fill Goblin and instead play Smack My Bitch Up right after Breathe. Again here the sound quality kinda just ruins the otherwise alwas fantastic live song.

Next on is Babys got a Temper, the track thats probably going to be the new Prodigy single and part of the live set since earlier this year. The track has since been changed around and now for the first time they play a new version of it. Unfortunately I have to say that I think it doesn't work at all. Combined with the really horrible sound quality, this track now sounds like just a whole load of different samples, that don't fit together, thrown at you at once and it makes it a bit more a downer than an exciting event to hear this new version of the track. I still think the studio version of this in proper sound quality could be really cool, but just right here in Las Vegas it doesn't seem to work at all, and more sounds like having a mixture of the BGAT original, Firestarter and Diesel Power instrumental all thrown at you at once.

This downer is followed by my personal highlight of the show though. Prodigy play a brand new live fill titled Dust Yoself which, no matter how bad the sound quality is, just sounds absolutely wicked! I've only ever heard this track once, so it is a bit hard to recall what exactly it sounded like, but it was very 'rocky', probably more 'rocky' than most of what Prodigy have done in the past, but yet sounds truly unique with absolutely wicked beats. I can only pray that this is going to be made into a proper track and will be released SOON! It would kill me never to hear this again.

Next on is Mindfields, pretty good performance here. Once more its Maxim and Keith together who are doing the track. Nuclear then, regardless the soundquality, is just fantastic. No live recording that I've heard so far (and I've heard a few good ones) does this track justice. Live at a show is the way to experience this track. And again, although this track is still 'new' and 'unknown', the audience seem to love it. It does get a little violent at the end of that track though as Keith has to kick over just every single monitor and light in front of the stage, before then completely disappearing for the next two songs.

Poison next is cool. No Keith, but great performance by Maxim. This is followed by the Benny Blanco fill, which actually sounds pretty good, despite the otherwise bad sound quality. After that Maxim leaves the stage and Keith makes a comeback for Firestarter before they then all leave the stage and an audience starts shouting for 'Prodigy, Prodigy' and want more again.

They return indeed and gives us the usual Fuel My Fire encore before then, after exactly 60 minutes, they leave the stage again.

Conclusion? Absolutely cool to see them play such a tiny venue, amazing atmosphere and a good crowd. Could have been the perfect gig if the sound hadn't been so bad and combined with technical diffiulties kind of led to an impression that they didn't give completely 100%. I really wish they'd play more of these venues though, rather than all those huge festivals.

  Sunday, 28 /4/02: Coachella Festival, Indio, CA, USA

Theoretically there are two Prodigy shows on the same day, one at 1am in Las vegas, the 2nd one at 8pm at Coachella festival in California. We fly into LA and then there's five of us driving in a van to Indio. It is already 5pm by the time we get to the festival which is located in the desert as well, nearby Palm Springs. Due to a very early flight we didn't actually get any sleep after the Vegas show at all, combined with my jetlag, that leaves me a little knackered. Also after this intimate club show we just can not imagine that this huge festival performance will match up in any way with last night.

the Strokes Foo Fighters
pic by neko pic by neko

As we get there, The Strokes are on. Most overrated band in recent history in my opinion. Boring to death. Makes them fit well with Oasis on the bill today. How do they survive on stage wearing their leather jackets? We're in the middle of the desert after all! Then there is some 'surprise band' in between Strokes and Foo Fighters. It is supposed to be some 'joke', but I don't quite get it. Some American actor jumping around and screaming. 'funny'.

Next on are Foo Fighters. They're a great band, I've been going to their shows and been into their stuff since they started. But today, compared to The Prodigy, even they seem rather average tonight.

Shortly after 8pm finally Prodigy are ready to get on stage. I'm somewhere squeezed into a lot of people at the left side, not such a good spot to see them as usual. They come on stage and although for some reason I didn't expect that much from this show, they are just amazing from the first minute.

pic by neko pic by neko pic by neko

It's the same intro as last night, leading into Their Law at the beginning and no matter how big this show is, The Prodigy once more have got the whole audience under control. Trigger comes on and the audience still love it, although most people here have probably never heard this track. There is loads of press photographers in the photo pit, some guys even with video cameras, so keep an eye out for that material to be around!

Breathe again gets a huge response and is truly confrontational between Maxim and Keith. As at all recent festival shows, they've got their little stair case in front of the stage for Maxim and Keith to go down into the audience, and they make use of this several times during this show. You can tell that all of the band really give 200% at this show.

pic by neko pic by neko pic by neko pic by neko

After Breathe, live fill Goblin gets played, the downtempo fill introduced at last summer's shows. As usual the audience goes more quiet during this track,which of course changes again once Smack My Bitch Up, the next track, starts.

Next is, again, Babys Got a Temper, starting with the musicbox-like intro. We had been trying to figure out the lyrics and are quite positive now that it's indeed about Rohypnol, which kind of makes sense: "She's got Rohypnol, we've got Rohypnol, we love Rohypnol, just forget it all!". I guess those lyrics will stir up a lot of controversy once the song is around.

The new version of it sounds a bit better tonight than last night with the poor sound in Las Vegas. The Firestarter riff is now at the beginning of the track and not in the middle anymore, while in the middle of the track a guitar solo by Jim can be heard, while the rest of the music is basically gone. I am still not all that impressed with this new version, as it unfortunately seems a bit overloaded with too many different samples, some of them sounding quite familiar.

pic by neko pic by neko pic by neko

Mindfields is on next, great performance by Maxim here. Now follows Nuclear, again I think together with Their Law this is the highlight of the live set, absolutely wicked and full of energy.

Poison comes on with Maxim as the mainman. Keith ventures to the audience and then pops up in the middle of the crowd. The Benny Blanco fill again is fantastic, with Maxim going on about "Bad Boy Benny Blanco" and, as during the whole show, making references to the "West Coast people".

pic by Elle pic by Elle pic by Elle

Maxim dissappears and Keith and Jim get back on stage to start Firestarter which, as usual at festivals, gets the biggest crowd response, as it still is the pobably most well-known Prodigy track. the show now ends as usual with Fuel My Fire and unfortunately also tonight no Rhythm of Life. Everyone keeps chanting "Prodigy, Prodigy", but there is no encore anymore. I can't blame the crowd for leaving after Prodigy, cause that's what we do too. Who would want to watch Oasis after that?

This show was just absolutely brilliant, and if there is anything to complain about it then that it just felt so short. Already as we leave the festival I cannot wait for the next shows ... just 2 months to go...!

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