There’s no denying that the Prodigy have earned themselves icon status not only in the realm of dance and electronic music, but pop culture in general. Vocalist Keith Flint’s signature devilish twin horned mohawk is as recognisable as the post-rave innovators’ signature sound. Combining the influences of the British rave scene with a raw aggression only achievable through their ferocious style of performance, the Prodigy are an unstoppable force that is best experienced live.
2017 marks a number of milestone for the group, heralding the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Experience, and 20 years since the release of their seminal third studio album, The Fat of the Land, which has been included in countless critics’ lists including Rolling Stone’s ‘Essential Recordings of the 90s’.
With a decade spanning career, the Prodigy have toured the world’s best festivals and arenas. Ahead of their return to the UK later this year, we count their five most iconic performances to date.
The very first gig
The Four Aces, a legendary venue in Dalston Square throughout the 80s and 90s, had the honour of playing host to The Prodigy’s debut performance. The Prodigy’s founder and producer Liam Howlett roped together fellow ravers Keith Flint, Leeroy, and Sharky as dancers, along with MC Maxim for the group’s very first performance of his early productions at the Four Aces’ popular rave night ‘Labyrinth’. Before the gig, the promoter warned them they’d only had two P.A.’s before and both had been bottled off in minutes. But what the Prodigy brought was something completely new. The Four Aces’ owner Newton Dunbar recalls how “even though they'd never performed live before, we agreed to give them a chance and, boy, we didn't regret it.” Word quickly spread and the following week The Prodigy returned to play again to an enormous crowd.
Wanting to stay true to their roots in the underground, The Prodigy have always been cautious to avoid overexposure from the wrong places, but the runaway success of their debut album Experience made mainstream attention unavoidable. An early appearance in the spotlight materialised in a colourful live TV slot. Their only studio appearance on British TV to date is a rare performance on BBC2’s ‘Dance Energy’ in 1992. The televised gig saw Howlett and co in their prime delivering an energetic rendition of Everybody in the Place to a studio audience clad in the most stereotypical of 90s get-up, in a format somewhat similar to Top of the Pops.
The historic festival Set
The Prodigy’s rapid ascent following the chart success of Experience, and later, Music for the Jilted Generation, led them to Glastonbury in 1995. And this was no ordinary year for the mother of all festivals, as the world’s most legendary festival celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Prodigy’s appearance went down as one of the stand out sets in a historic year for the festival as Keith Flint arrived on stage inside a giant hamster ball. Their appearance at the festivals newly introduced dance tent was the crowning achievement of their early years.
Breaking the US
With the controversy surrounding Firestarter and Keith Flint’s psychopathic performance in the accompanying video in 1997, The Prodigy were able to make a memorable impact in the US. Championed by MTV, their crossover success earned them a headline slot on the Lollapalooza tour of 1997, signalled that the boys from Braintree in Essex had well and truly defied their critics and conquered the states.
The Warriors Dance legacy
The Prodigy’s fifth studio album, Invaders Must Die, brought with it the first edition of The Prodigy’s own annual gig, The Warrior’s Dance Festival. The 2010 edition hosted at the Milton Keynes Bowl was their largest performance to date, playing to a crowd of 65,000 and spawned the live concert film, World’s on Fire, which was released the following year. The Warrior’s Dance Festival cemented The Prodigy’s icon status in the world of dance and electronic music and established their legacy in the scene as they closed out curated lineups that featured the upcoming vanguard of the time, including Pendulum and Chase & Status.
Returning to their roots
As part of their UK tour to support their most recent album, The Day is my Enemy, in 2015, The Prodigy included a very special show that saw them returning to their roots at the Reading Rivermead Leisure Complex, a venue that they had last played at in 1997. In their early days The Prodigy built up their fearsome live show and devoted fanbase getting out and gigging around the country relentlessly. At the time no venue was too small or too unconventional, and spaces like the Reading Rivermead were a regular in the group’s touring schedule. Having conquered arenas and festivals alike it was a real gesture of fan service for the Prodigy to include a more intimate performance in their tour, at the kind of venue that they would have played at when first starting out.
New music in 2017
December 2017 marks The Prodigy’s homecoming following a year of international gigging, with a tour of the UK that concludes with a three day stint at the O2 Brixton Academy. Their highly anticipated return to home soil promises the first taste of material that will be featured on their highly anticipated 2018 album, so it’s safe to say that any of their upcoming performances could go down as their most iconic yet.