REVIEW: The Prodigy + Public Enemy, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Keith Flint of The Prodigy in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Keith Flint of The Prodigy in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
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The Arena played host to two of modern music’s seminal forces as Public Enemy andThe Prodigy rolled into town for surely the year’s finest double-bill.

Both may have had their day, yet the influence they've wreaked on the electronic and hip-hop worlds is beyond beyond measure.

The Prodigy's Maxim Reality in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Prodigy's Maxim Reality in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

And while anything short of an amazing night would’ve been a huge disappointment, it was nevertheless a thrill to see this titanic show live up to all it ought to have been.

With almost three decades behind them and the enduring status as hip-hop’s definitive band, it’d be an insult to label Public Enemy a mere support act.

After all, how often do you turn up early and get hit with the likes of Rebel Without A Pause, Welcome To The Terrordome and Fight The Power; iconic cuts which even now retain all their weight and authority.

Chuck D and company are, of course, almost as famed for political activism as for their music, and in this sense their relevance remains undimmed.

Frontmen Keith Flint and Maxim Reality of The Prodigy on stage at the Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Frontmen Keith Flint and Maxim Reality of The Prodigy on stage at the Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Indeed, tonight’s set concluded not with a rap, but rather an extended address from Flavor Flav, preaching power through peace at the expense of racism and separatism.

In light of recent events and their often ugly fallout, it was a potent and timely message on which to depart.

While Public Enemy’s appearance proved a rare treat, the night’s headliners were returning in double-quick time, having headlined the O2 Academy as recently as May.

Music fans often state a preference for smaller venues, but make no mistake; The Prodigy are an arena band.

The Prodigy's sound was beefed up by live guitar and drums. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Prodigy's sound was beefed up by live guitar and drums. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Every aspect of their live show is built for the big stage, from their vast sound system (which overwhelmed the Academy, leading to a somewhat underwhelming show, for me) and dazzling lightshow to Maxim Reality and Keith Flint’s hyperactive crowd-baiting routine.

The seats were far from full, but the energy and humidity emanating from the packed stalls was palpable from the off.

Completed by mastermind Liam Howlett and supplemented with live guitar and drums, the Essex outfit escalated matters with an awesome opening salvo; dispensing with the likes of Breathe, Omen and Firestarter within their first five songs.

This being The Prodigy, there was never any chance of a let-up.

The Prodigy rolled back the years with a vintage performance at the Arena. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Prodigy rolled back the years with a vintage performance at the Arena. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Okay, the bulk of cuts from new album The Day Is My Enemy are far from vintage, yet for sheer relentless drive and intensity the likes of Wild Frontier and Roadblox were right at home.

These, though, were clearly secondary to their canon of ‘90s classics, not least the narcotic madness of Voodoo People and the titanic beat of Smack My Bitch Up, which brought the main set to an immense close.

It was nice to hear Jilted Generation classic Their Law during the encore, though by then fans of both acts had already received their money’s worth.

Its chief fuel may have been nostalgia, but even in this day and age it's safe to say this exhilarating show lived up to its billing.

Chuck D of hip-hop legends Public Enemy in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Chuck D of hip-hop legends Public Enemy in action at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Hip-hop legends Public Enemy were a class above your average support band. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Hip-hop legends Public Enemy were a class above your average support band. Pic: Katy Blackwood.