Date: 15th November 2018
Review by: Courtney Solloway
Photography by: Michelle Murphy (Mootography)
I do not envy those that decided they are going to walk up that steep hill to Alexandra Palace. As I stood on the bus that takes you right outside the venue I watched the slew of crowd goers drag themselves up the hill one after the other. A couple of people even waved at those on the bus going by, it was nice to see that regardless of the walk they were still in high spirits for the night to come.
Getting off of the bus you could see their Ant logo projected onto the stained glass which began to build further on the excitement I was feeling.
Once inside I walked into the huge hall that would be where it took place. I had no idea that Alexandra Palace had so many rooms and it would have been easy for me to get lost had there not been signs everywhere. Luckily for me, I had managed to meet a couple of friends at the show so I wasn’t totally on my own. The Prodigy seems to be a rare case in which a wide array of people will listen to them, metalheads and ravers alike. In fact, the more the crowd began to grow the more in awe I was at how diverse the fans seemed to be. The gig was 16+ and whilst I didn’t see too many of that age, I did see a lot of 20+ all the way to about 65. One guy behind me seemed to have come with his wife, daughter and granddaughters. A testament to The Prodigy’s timelessness.
A DJ was present in the room playing a few mixes whilst people began to turn up. By that point, there were easily around 1,000 at the front of the stage. Ordinarily, I would fight my way through to the front of the crowd but as I had never been to a show like this before I decided that staying between the soundstage and the door was not only the safest option, but also best for sound and my own experience. In the end, I was right.
The first band, Ho9909, comes on stage as the lights dim, dressed in high-vis clothing, and one member had a giant hat hiding his face. I’ll be honest, from the moment their music started I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I didn’t understand these guys at all. For me, what they were doing always left me wanting a little bit more than what was presented. To me they sounded like they were trying to take Rage Against the Machine, Slipknot, Metallica and “mumble” rappers. The unfortunate thing about this is that it’s too many genres to put into one and the parts don’t compliment one another the way that they should. When there were certain breaks in the song I was expecting a heavy bass drop to go completely mad too, but alas it never happened.
In my opinion, Ho99o9 would benefit most from trying to narrow the styles which they use to improve the ones they are better at. That being said, I’ll give credit where credit is due: the drummer was incredibly talented and his drum solo towards the end was enough to keep me in high spirits. Ho99o9 also ended quite abruptly, to me it didn’t seem like it had reached a natural conclusion despite the fact that they remained on stage for a small period of time afterwards.
During the break between the bands, the heat in the room intensifies as more bodies piled in. The ant which was once on the stained glass window outside is now projected onto the curtains on stage, which begins to rile up the ever-growing crowd in the room. Just before The Prodigy takes to the stage you can definitely tell that there are 10,000 people in the room. It looked incredibly cramped at the front of the crowd and that’s where I decided I was right to hang towards the sound desk, because I was still left with quite a lot of room between my friends and I to have a dance without worrying about hitting the person next to us.
As the curtain drops and their hit Breathe from The Fat Of The Land begins to play, the crowd completely erupts into screaming, dancing and singing the tune to the song. Of course, as always with a crowd this large, you can see everyone beginning to rush forward to get closer to the stage. Which, in my opinion, would have been a fruitless effort as from where I was; I couldn’t see anything except an insane light show.
The Prodigy is essentially a giant rave for people from all walks of life and not just normal rave-goers. And unsurprisingly, there were people who were completely off their face left, right and centre. For a sober person, this did seem a little bit overwhelming. I’m no stranger when it comes to drugs, don’t get me wrong. Whilst I don’t take them due to no interest and seeing no point to them, I’m not used to seeing it in that amount of people (though not all 10,000 people were taking them). I’m used to seeing it spread out more amongst 80,000 in a field at a festival. However, what people chose to do at shows is none of my business, and despite my sober state the energy in the room was so high from the music alone I didn’t even feel it was necessary for me to have any alcohol.
The Prodigy continues to play hits of times gone by such as Omen and Firestarter, and some of their newer songs to promote the new album, No Tourists, such as Champions of London and Need Some1. The sheer energy from the stage that transfers to the crowd was pure and true insanity, and it wasn’t unusual for someone to grab a stranger who was dancing nearby and just start dancing with them as well. To be honest, I think a lot of people made new friends that night and that’s one of the great things about these shows. I had conversations struck with me by people who probably wouldn’t approach me in their ordinary day to day life because of my bright blue hair, but at shows like these the more unique and different you are, the more you are approached and celebrated.
To me, the best moment of the night was right towards the end. They begin to play arguably their biggest hit, Smack My Bitch Up, and understandably at this point all bets are off as to what’s going on in the room. It’s pure chaos. Everyone is chanting, singing, dancing, pushing and shoving and it’s hard to tell which way is up or down. When the song finishes and the crowd begins screaming rather than chanting for an encore, it’s clear to see that no one is finished yet.
Going onto We Live Forever and ending on Out Of Space, the crowd continues to sing the chorus at the stage despite the music being over. This actually lasts for longer than I expected at around 1 or 2 minutes, and the crowd are still left wanting more but to no avail. The night is over from there and the crowd, who now begin the cattle walk out the doors to the bag room or out of the venue, continue to sing different songs amongst themselves.
This was my first Prodigy gig and it probably won’t be my last. However, this was a totally different scene that I had thrown myself into. I’m so used to being in the metal scene and only going to rock shows that it was overwhelming when the show started, but it was so easy after the first song to just relax and do your own thing because no one else really cared. I can’t see myself going to loads of drum and bass shows or raves independently of this, but it was definitely a new experience and overall an extremely enjoyable one.