It’s an evening for all kinds of music fans at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff, as rockers, ravers, punks and crusties turn out for the return of The Prodigy. It’s the band’s first time in the city since their debut – way back in 1992 – that they’re without Keith Flint, who sadly passed away in 2019.
They still have a whirlwind focal point in the dreadlocked Maxim Reality, who launches the band into a powerhouse opening combo of Breathe and Omen. Centre stage, of course, is man behind the music Liam Howlett, flanked by The Prodigy’s touring guitarist, bassist, and drummer. Maxim jumps into the crowd and does a lap of the arena – barging this reviewer out of the way in the process! – as his cohorts blast out Voodoo People.
Demonstrating that Prodigy hits span generations at this point, they bust out Light Up The Sky followed by Everybody In The Place – which gets said place absolutely bouncing, old-skool ravers busting out frantic foot- and handwork like it’s the early 90s again. The lights then go down momentarily, and the 30-foot figure that’s been looming in the middle of the arena floor suddenly bursts into action: lasers, shooting from its eyes, are aimed at the screens either side of the stage. As the crowd realise that this is creating an animation of Keith Flint on screen – which duly dances along to Firestarter – a huge roar goes up; it’s a wonderful, oddly poignant tribute to the late frontman.
The guitar-heavy Their Law sends the crowd into big beat heaven and underlines how much the live musicians bring to the Prodigy live experience. Guitarist and bassist criss-cross the stage with Maxim, while the drummer is given licence to add beef to the huge beats Howlett produces. The laser show continues as No Good gets the ravers moving again, before the huge breakbeat of Poison gives Maxim further opportunity to shine. Cue the controversial Smack My Bitch Up – albeit, if I was hearing right, with alternate lyrics by Maxim – heralding a quick break. The band lap up a return to the stage and launch into a four-song encore, culminating in the anthemic Out Of Space.
Flint’s untimely death will always leave a void, but as a live act The Prodigy fill it as best they can by allowing Maxim more of the stage. A full Cardiff house exits the arena having witnessed one of the best UK acts to ever do it deliver an amazing set – full of classics, with little room for chitchat in between.
The Prodigy, Utilita Arena Cardiff, Tue 21 Nov
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos RAHUL SINGH