The Prodigy’s barricade-storming electro-punk feels impossibly old-hat in an age when many people’s idea of direct action involves tinkering with their Facebook profile.
But though times have changed, the Essex posse — that old gang mentality still central to their identity — remain a frantic, ferocious force, deploying depth charge beats and choruses that go off like incendiaries.
As with any outfit of their vintage, the ’90s behemoths bring a certain shtick to their shows, with rapper Maxim repeatedly asking “Where are my warriors?”.
Yet, at a heaving 3Arena, Liam Howlett’s mayhem-filled techno operettas had lost none of their edge, as demonstrated by slamming versions of ‘Breathe’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ (a controversial track when released in 1997, can you imagine the uproar that song’s title would provoke today?).
The group’s central role in early ’90s clubbing culture was meanwhile evoked with ‘Voodoo People’s’ Wagnerian bleep and the protean onslaught of ‘Firestarter’, among the smartest valentines to unexpurgated hedonism ever committed to tape.
The latter also provided a showcase for frontman Keith Flint’s pantomime-villain performance style, his flared nostrils and spiky hair as mock-terrifying as when first unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences 20-odd years ago.
There were inevitable new songs, from comeback LP The Day Is My Enemy. But new tunes such as ‘Nasty’ and ‘Rok-Weiler’ felt like a reassertion of The Prodigy’s maniacal first principles rather than a stab at old glories, with killer grooves segueing into terrace-mob chants from Flint.
Throw in a light show that resembled the advance party of an alien invasion and the result was an evening of bone-shaking ferocity, one that almost restored your faith in music’s ability to kick doors down and up end the status quo.