Known for shattering the music genre paradigm, UK Rave veterans The Prodigy set the RAC Arena alight as they kicked off their Australian Tour in true Prodigy style. With the tour marking the release of their 2018 album No Tourists, the electronica legends hit the Perth stage alongside Triple J Unearthed DJ Enschway and ShockOne, making for one hell of an arena-sized dance party.
Sydney-born DJ Nic Schweighoffer (Enschway) kicked off the night, showcasing talent that Australia’s electronic scene is proud to call its own. Dabbling within the genres of Dance, Pop, and Electronic music, his performance oozed charisma, perfectly setting the scene for ShockOne to take the stage. Karl Thomas (ShockOne) proceeded to demonstrate exactly why he has earned his place as one of the big players in Perth’s bass scene, showcasing artfully timed drops and killer vocals from the lovely Reija Lee. I know you’re all here for the Prodigy, though, so let’s skip to that part (sorry guys!).
The audience was abuzz in ways I’ve never seen before, although that was likely the drugs judging from the assault on my olfactory senses. In all honesty, it was only befitting of the old school acid-sense the dance-rock musicians have incorporated into their latest album. Either way, the excitement that oozed from the crowd only stood testament to the besotted following that the Prodigy has amassed over their 28-year career, which can only have occurred with good reason. Whilst the excitable hum from the audience was contagious and made for a much anticipated build-up, I do have to say that the wait was far longer than necessary, especially considering we were left waiting in darkness. Despite this, their spectacular entry more than made up for it, as Liam Howlett, Keith Flint, and Maxim Reality emerged from a sea of fog blinded by a brilliantly chaotic light display. A special note must be given to the audio-visual team, whose ingenious light work turned the performance into the arena-sized dance party Prodigy fans hoped for. If anything, they were the real geniuses behind the show, creating a backdrop against which the Prodigy’s sound could be showcased with the platform it deserved.
Liam, Keith, and Maxim’s collective energy can only be described as contagiously aggressive, and in the best way possible. Their on-stage personas came to life in the most violently excitable fashion and the crowd loved it, violently thrashing with them as mind-numbing beats blasted throughout the venue. One thing’s for sure, and it’s that they certainly know how to play to a crowd. My only critique in terms of crowd engagement, however, was that everything Maxim Reality said was basically a variation of “all my [fucking] Prodigy people”, which quickly became old, although I doubt those on the dance floor noticed, being too enthralled in the beat to notice much else. If anything, that in itself should demonstrate the level of musicianship the Prodigy possesses; enthralling the audience so much that they notice little else.
No Tourists is best described as a rehash of the Prodigy’s past successes, which is either a brilliant decision or a lack of creativity. Whilst one might argue they’re giving us the sounds we know and love, others argue it’s nothing more than the recycling of old work. I’m inclined to agree with the latter, given that by the end of the night the pieces had begun to merge together and sound the same. What is new, however, is the fusion of industrial metal with their old electronic punk-rock, pop-esque style. As weird as this sounds, it actually works, for the most part anyway. Featuring typically metal guitar riffs, alongside some sampling, repetitive synth riffs, and distorted vocals, the Prodigy have fractured the genre paradigm once again, combining metal with electronic dance music in a weirdly satisfying way. Whilst it undeniably gives their work a delightfully heavy edge, there was the odd occasion where Keith Flint’s shrill screams did little more than pierce ears. Other times, however, it was the perfect level of distortion, completing their heavy dance piece with menacing vibes. For all of its metal elements and techno sensibilities, it still pertained to its pop-like dance background, retaining its accessibility.
Ultimately, No Tourists is an album created for dumb-fun, filled to the brim with hard-hitting break beats and catchy repetitive synth riffs. Whilst I can’t say it’s as good as their first three albums, it’s the perfect arena-moulded rock-rave designed to be lapped up by the crowd. This is perhaps a little too evident, with the album clearly being a rehash of previous successes shaped to make money, rather than the creation of something new. Despite this, No Tourists has been a huge success amongst the Prodigy’s fans so it’s clear there’s still life in the old dog yet, but some new content is definitely needed.
Photos by Jessica Vaini