WORDS WILL MAXWELL / IMAGES JOE JONES
Opening up tonight are Soft Play, and I would like to congratulate them on the world’s most misleading band name (you may know them by their previous name Slaves). The Kent punk-duo – Isaac Holman (vocals/drums) and Laurie Vincent (guitar) – are the perfect warm-up act for tonight’s show. “Punk’s Dead” lyrics are mainly composed of comments they received in response to last year’s name change.
“White Knuckle Ride” is exactly what this set feels like. The shirtless Holman stands as he absolutely pounds the drums, physically punching and kicking them at times, and his gnarly and aggressive vocals demand the attention of those who were unfamiliar with them before tonight.
Long time fans were treated to favourites such as “Sugar Coated Bitter Truth” and “Beauty Quest” and this well-received, raucous and rowdy set comes to a close with “The Hunter”.
Radio 1 DJ Jack Saunders plays a set in-between the bands, and judges the mood perfectly. The diverse nature of the crowd The Prodigy attract – older ones reliving their youth, dance music fans and a fair amount of metalheads – are all catered for with classic trance and rock anthems.
The Prodigy take to the stage and show us they are in no mood to be messing around by kicking off with the gigantic anthem “Breathe”. The opening riff – played by live guitarist Rob Holliday – reverberates around the Arena and sets the tone perfectly for the insane ninety minutes that follows.
Vocalist and MC Maxim whips up the crowd throughout, and they are given an early chance to sing at the top of their lungs during “Omen”. His infectious energy and repeated reference to “the Manchester people” ensures a strong connection with the audience as they challenge each other to take the energy levels to new heights.
Maxim praises “The shirtless warriors” who keep the chaotic mosh pits circling all night as Manchester goes wild for “Voodoo People” and “Everybody In The Place” as the best rave this Arena has ever seen is in full flow. The dazzling lights and ear-splitting sound levels are an assault on the senses that has everyone fully immersed in a performance that shows the pioneers of this scene are still the very best.
The tragic loss of Keith Flint in 2019 is still felt today. The idolised, iconic frontman embodied the spirit and anarchy of the band. They pay a touching tribute to him tonight. A giant mannequin at the back of the standing area shoots lasers from its eyes to create the figure of him from his “Firestarter” days and the crowd roars with approval. Whilst he is irreplaceable, Maxim and Liam Howlett continuing with The Prodigy keeps his spirit living on.
With no new material released since 2018, we’re blessed with a greatest hits set with the likes of “Their Law” and “Poison” delighting the crowd. Maxim wanders into the stands during “Smack My Bitch Up”. The crowd are urged to crouch down before they jump up as one on the final chorus of a song that would probably not be allowed to be released these days.
“Take Me to the Hospital”, “Invaders Must Die” and “Out of Space” push the 11pm curfew to its limit and rounds off an evening of unrelenting chaos, where everyone in here gave everything they could to ensure this was a night that will live long in the memory.
3/ LIGHT UP THE SKY
4/ VOODOO PEOPLE
6/ EVERYBODY IN THE PLACE
7/ OMEN (reprise)
10/ THEIR LAW
11/ NO GOOD
12/ GET YOU FIGHT ON
14/ NEED SOME 1
15/ SMACK MY BITCH UP
16/ TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL
17/ INVADERS MUST DIE
18/ DIESEL POWER
19/ WE LIVE FOREVER
20/ OUT OF SPACE
FOLLOW THE PRODIGY
FOLLOW SOFT PLAY
My life is a soundtrack, i track my life through music, photography is my passion, my escape, my expression. Without both i have pieces missing, thankfully i’m blessed and get to combine both.
Born in Manchester, lived in Australia for 22 years where i was heavily involved in the Australian Music Industry, firstly in bands (Singer) and then managing bands (all original), I moved back to the UK, Wales specifically 10 years ago and married my childhood sweetheart and life is good.