No backup singers, flashy stage production or choreographed dancing – The Prodigy’s show Thursday night at the Tel Aviv Trade Fairs Center was all rock. It’s been over 20 years since British electro-dance pioneers first came onto the scene in the early ‘90s, but that didn’t mean anything to the genre-smashing prodigies of electronica.
The huge crowd of fans who waited at the outdoors venue on a warm night made even more claustrophobic by a thick blanket of artificial smoke erupted when the band took the stage. Two huge mounted screens, normally used at concerts to help the audience who can’t see the stage get a glimpse of the action, relayed video of the band that was warped, fuzzy and frenetic, just like the music.
“Where the **** are my Prodigy people?” screamed front man Liam Howlett at the frenzied crowd. “My Tel Aviv people, voodoo people,” he shouted before leading into “Voodoo People,” a hit off The Prodigy’s 1994 album Music for the Jilted Generation.
The night’s set list was a sampling from all five of the band’s albums, but many songs were new to the Israeli audience since the last time The Prodigy played here was after the release of Fat of the Land, an album that would launch them to the top of the charts in the mid- ’90s.
“The last time we were here was in ninety ****’ six,” noted Howlett. “Well this is going to be better than ninety *****’ six!” The Prodigy then proved it by playing some of their best-loved songs for the mass of fans awash in blue and red flashing lights, including “Poison,” “Breathe,” “Firestarter,” “Invaders Must Die,” a sneak peak at their upcoming album with the new single “Jetfighter,” a dubstep-inspired rendition of “Thunder” and, of course, their live anthem “Smack My Bitch Up,” which served as the pre-encore tune.
Unfortunately, their funky 2004 effort Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned was severely underrepresented, with only one song to speak of making it onto the set list. That song, “Spitfire,” was altered almost beyond recognition, but the audience, which included baby boomers to couples with small childrin, were happy to dance raucously to equally wild, thrashing electronic rock. After taking a millisecond break between the main set and the encore set, the band finished the night with “Take Me to the Hospital” and “Hyperspeed,” commanding people to get down on the ground and then jump up and replacing drums altogether in favor of the audience clapping.
“They said we can party all night here. Then where the **** are my party people? Everybody’s a ****’ VIP tonight,” yelled Howlett to a chorus of cheers.
“Respect to all people here no matter who the *** you are or where the *** you come from. Let’s party.”
And in that, The Prodigy more than succeeded.