Essex rave legends The Prodigy took to Bangkok on Tuesday night, showing those in attendance exactly why, even 25 years since forming, they’re still at the top of their game.
Prart Music Group, known primarily for their work with rock and metal acts, turned their hand to the electronic music market for the inaugural Out of Dimension festival, bringing together some of the best new acts from around Bangkok and beyond. For one night, BITEC was transformed into a mecca of electronic music, showcasing the best talent that Bangkok has to offer. Kidnappers commenced the evening on the main stage, followed by Gene Kasidit with a full scale production with backup dancers and six piece band. Barbies took to the stage next, channelling all the best elements of nu metal (believe me, there are some) and the creatively decorated front room saw a host of Bangkok’s finest DJ talent like Sunju Hargun grace the decks but it was clear by the roar when the house lights dimmed that The Prodigy was the reason the crowd headed to the convention centre.
The Essex-based band formed in 1990 and spent the first half of that decade redefining and combining elements of rave, jungle and big beat styles of music and introducing a whole new generation to electronic music. In 1997 they achieved global mainstream success with a string of hits from their 10 million-selling album The Fat of the Land, including ‘Firestarter’ and the controversial ‘Smack My Bitch up’. Band founder Liam Howlett has long argued that The Prodigy are as much an electronic music act as they are a direct descendant of punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash and their unique ability to headline electronic music festivals like Australia’s Future Music Festival and rock festivals like Germany’s Rock am Ring is a testament to the crossover appeal the of their sound.
Six years after the critically ambivalent reception to Invaders Must Die, The Day Is My Enemy has has the band back with arguably their most hard hitting, and, as they characterize it, ‘violent‘ album to date. The performance in Bangkok marks the first performance of The Prodigy in South-east Asia after a series of bizarre mishaps saw scheduled performances in Singapore and Vietnam aborted earlier this year.
Enigmatic frontman Keith Flint swaggers onto the stage looking like a steampunk nightmare horror story, his signature hair assembled in two glistening rows of spikes. He snarls into the microphone with an emphatic “Where my warriors at?” The heavily tattooed Maxim soon joins him, emerging through a cloud of dry ice smoke with eerie white stage make-up across his face screaming “Are all my f**king party people in here tonight?” His party people were most definitely in attendance and despite much of the crowd now looking more young-at-heart than young, the shift in energy throughout the crowd was palpable.
Immediately shirts were strewn aside and a moshpit assembled, before the group had even commenced their first song, a searing rendition of Fat Of The Land‘s ‘Breathe’. Almost without pause they catapulted into new single ‘Nasty’ from Invaders Must Die, both tracks driven by similar twanging, reptilian keyboard effects despite the fact that they were recorded almost two decades apart. In fact, the whole set concentrated on The Prodigy’s heavier material, perfect for showcasing the extra elements that they bring to a live performance like a live drummer and guitarist, and showing a continuity in the band’s approach to production since their inception. Old numbers felt revitalised; new tracks like “Rok weiler” and “Get Your Fight On” felt like they were already classics.
The band bring all the searing energy of their releases to their live show, complete with an impressive stage setup (that crew were assembling from 3am the night before) and enough strobes and lights behind them to suggest an alien invasion. The sound system delivered a full blown sensory assault, courtesy of the 16 L Accoustics K1 cabinets loud enough to tear the skin off your face and 16 SB28 sub woofers powerful enough to liquefy your bowels once they get throbbing. Guitars scream, drums pound like a barrage of artillery fire, Howlett attacks his synthesizer, Flint paces menacingly across the stage snarling into his glowing microphone and Maxim effortlessly controls the audience. Hammering through their set, they soon announced that ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ was to be their last track with Maxim cueing the entire crowd to crouch in unison before springing to their feet at the explosive choru. An encore was always going to happen so after leaving the stage briefly, the group return to blast out crowd favourite ‘Their Law’ and ‘Take Me To Hospital’.
Fans that came expecting a greatest hits set may have been disappointed as despite having an extensive 23 year catalogue to choose from, new tracks from The Day Is My Enemy were favoured over what some would consider to be pivotal tracks in the band’s history. Notable absences were the omission of 1992 rave classic “Out Of Space” and acid tinged “Poison” from Music From A Jilted Generation and but the net result was something better – something more individual and far more Prodigy: a relentless 90 minutes of cohesive music that confirmed the group’s well deserved reputation as one of the greatest live acts in the world.
** SLR photography was not allowed for The Prodigy’s performance so we’ve selected some of the best Instagram posts from the evening. To see more check out #ODBKK on Instagram **