The Living Room Set
Two weeks - that's two weeks - before their tour began, the Prodigy were shown ideas for this years stage set, mostly industrial-design based, as seen in recent years. Their reaction "Nah, bored with that. Lets do a living room. " Enter the peacable Alan Chester from specialist design company, HangMan. He was about to become very ill indeed...
1) Fish Tank:
-"This was Liam's idea. There's two things you should never have on-stage and that's glass and water, and we had both. It's okay, they're not real. Real fish may have demanded their own dressing room. Insisted on a specific kind of weed on their rider. "
2) Bank of 70's TVs:
-"Very difficult to get hold of, very hard to transport. but they are the proper period pieces; oh yes, everything had to be right. And switched to static, of course. "
- "Pink fun fur - from a telephone which also featured on a single sleeve. It's all continuity, y'know!"
4) Framed Pictures:
-"The Firestarter Granny, the Ant picture. And then more wall designs like the little lights with the jewel shades, which are horrible and great - or both, probably. "
-"Designed to have projections shine through the back of the frames... Yes, the lighting man is never left out. "
6) Three Fish Flying Up The Wall:
-"They're made with a carved base covered with lycra for the reflective effect. From the Breathe Single. "
7) Gigantic Lampshades:
-"Very theatrical and there's real light sources coming from them. An idea nicked from Blur? Oh no, no. I don't know who you're talking about. "
-"Goes between the staircases up to the higher level (where Keith goes berserk). They wanted an authentic nasty 70's brown,purple and orange carpet. They just don't exist, so we ended up getting any carpet and just dyeing it ourselves. "
Confessions of a Prodigy Crowd-Surfer [Andrew Diprose] "I've never put myself in that heavy rockin' mutha category of dancing. A backspin on a fresh piece of lino always beats the hell out of a head-banging mosh in a Metallica Gig. Distanced from the grim world of the studded bracelet and the biker jacket,crowd-surfing was definetely in the realm of the 'metaller'.
"At the Brixton Academy, 11 October, it all changed. The Prodge came on-stage and at the sound of the first breakbeat, it all went off. Girls were fainting, the sane were making a quick exit from the stage area, everyone moved together, a huge pogoing mess of ravers. I turned to my brother (also going mental behind me) -he stopped jumping and offered up clasped hands, ready to propel me skyward.
"Suddenly it all changed, hands appeared from nowhere, there was a feeling of relief, somehow the crowd was supporting me, hands passed me on with enthusiasm and afear of getting my boot in their face. Call me a deluded fool, but for one brief moment every eye was on me, grinning and flailing - the whole audience laid out before me, hands in the air. The crowd weakened and then I dipped to chest height - screaming at the crowd seemed to work.
"Within seconds, my feet had overtaken my head and I was pushed head-height all the way to the stage and the 'Welcoming' arms of the bouncers. "You want views? You want a rush? You want to show off? Just crowd-surf. "
The Gig Brixton Academy All-Nighter, 11 October 1996
That show, song by song
1 "Smack My Bitch Up"
The Clash's "London's Burning" and the Ruts' "Babylon's Burning" fades out into... lights, cam 'awn then, action! Keith boings, Maxim shouts, "Yaaargh! yaaargh!" and lots of things about drugs and sex, presumably - and Liam's computer flickers out to match his grin, straight into the next dimension.
2 "Voodoo People"
Maxim bares his chest and the first 27 rows keel over in desire... possibly . The whole world turns red. Keith's kilt swings like a pendulum.
"Release the presshah!" shrieks Maxim. "Don't play the game!" agrees Keith in this, their bonkerspunkmayhemakimbo Sex Pistols-gone-techno James Bond theme tune anthem for the"Fuck you" generation. You couldn't ask for more. You get it - Gizz, the guitarist, appears; flame of hair, leather of jacket, punk of rock - he is Keith with a guitar.
They've got the remedy! They've got London shifting on its axis with the flamed frenetic hip-hop calamity. The first 27 rows forget about swooning and surf on each other's heads.
5 "Funky Shit"
No kidding, buster, and here's Leeroy to prove it - a man who appears to be on casters, such is the smoothness of his comedy-tail-wind-surfing windmill routine.
6 "Weather Experience"
"Hands in the air! Show your appreciation!!" hollers Maxim, the man with the Devil's eyes. No-one argues with him.
7 "Their Law"
Up the revolution. Gizz reappears and Jimi Hendrix grins in approval from the Heavens.
Thus far, it's only a provisionally titled, unfinished, crunchophonic "Test Tune". Keith alights the stairways to the platform level above and gives it large, as a man would who once said, "When I'm on stage, my body screams. If I could burst into flames, I would. "
9 "Mine Fields"
Mind flails, more like...
"I'm the trouble starter, I'm the instigator!" barks Keith - and a universe bursts into flames along with him.
"An' a rollin' rock!" blusters Maxim - and he's not talking about beer with limes in.
12”No Good (Start the Dance)"
5000 people with javelins in their necks move as a oneness three feet into the air, back down again, and up and down and up and down... DON'T! NEED! NO! ONE! THATS! NO! GOOD FOR ME!! and breaks the Brixton Academy.Quite literally. For the first time in its history, the false flooring down the front where a stage used to be in the olden days has cracked and given way. Four inches. If it cracks any more, the Mosh-pit are looking at a six-foot drop... The show stops dead. An announcement: "This is a security alert!" The front rows, MOVE BACK!". Fifteen minutes of chaotic confusion later, the show resumes. No one's died. Luckily.
13 "Fuel my Fire"
The encore. Metal mayhem. Gizz gives it knees all the way down to Rio.
Another "test-tune" homage to Gabba techno (the Dutch-based mad techno with over 200bpm). London astrally projects round the rings of Saturn. Keith andhis inner flame hold their arms aloft and we salute the human gyroscope who once said, "You can't grow old and think 'Why didn't I, why didn't I?' Just do it. " You heard the man.
Gizz, The Punk Rock Guitarist. On paper it seems like the strangest thing, but when a guitarist - that's guitarist - wanders onstage to join the Prodigy live experience, it becomes the most brilliant thing. The man in question is one Gizzard Puke, named after the Kenny Everett character. In the music biz since he was fifteen, Gizz got the call from the Prodigy during the Summer and hasn't looked back since. Not afraid of dnace purists who look down on guitars in dance, he says, "The guitar's just another dimension. Anyway, if people don't like it, fuck 'em. "
His future, for now, remains open-ended: "The Prodigy had a guitarist for eighteen months who left for whatever reasons, and they got me in. I'm just doing it, really enjoying it... "