Walking into the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool for the first time ever, it was hard to believe that such a place was soon to be invaded by hoards of screaming drum and bass fans, and the dance floor to be turned into one massive rave. The place was stunning, and as suggested by the name, much more used to holding formal dances and entertainment. The sweeping arches, the intricate ceiling detail complete with chandeliers and the balcony surrounding the dance floor amazed you as soon as you walked in, and from the word go it was obvious that this was going to be a gig to remember.
I have seen The Prodigy perform six times over the last 5 or so years, but never in such an intimate venue. The Empress Ballroom has a 3000 capacity, and the tickets had sold out on the first day of going on sale. The result? 3000 die hard Prodigy fans in a very small space-what could be better!
The support band were a band called Foreign Beggars, who are a dubstep/drum and bass band from London with some beat boxing thrown in, and who have been touring with the Prodigy for the whole of this tour. These guys put on a great performance which was very well received by the crowd; check out my other reviews for the review + interview with these guys!
Because we had been interviewing Foreign Beggars after their slot and before the Prodigy came on, and the backstage entrance was right next to the front of the stage, we were lucky enough to be able to get right up against the barrier for the gig. (We kept our eyes peeled the entire time we were backstage trying to get a glimpse of the guys from Prodigy, but no such luck. Thinking back on it, that was probably a good thing…I don’t know if I could have controlled myself if I had seen them face to face!) We were in position about half an hour before the gig, and spirits were running high. The crowd couldn’t wait for the Prodigy to come on-‘Prodigy, Prodigy!’ was heard many, many times while we were waiting!
Eventually, the waiting was over. Amidst dry ice aplenty, The Prodigy entered the stage in their usual enthusiastic style to huge roars from the audience. They went straight into ‘World’s on Fire’ and the crowd went wild! By the end of the first song the arm that was clinging onto the barrier for dear life was already covered in bruises, but I couldn’t have been happier!
They played the perfect mix of classics and new songs, both of which were well-received. ‘Omen’, a track from their new album, had the whole audience singing along at top volume, and in a venue with acoustics like the ballroom the effect was incredible. ‘Serial Thriller’, ‘Firestarter’, and ‘Breathe’ were all played, but heavier D&B mixes of them which were INCREDIBLE to rock out to! ‘Run with the Wolves’ and ‘Take me to the Hospital’ were fantastic to hear live, and the audience were loving the tracks from the new album.
The thing that makes the Prodigy’s gigs stand out from the crowd is the unbelievable amount of audience interaction. We were standing near to the side of the stage, and I lost count of the number of times Keith Flint and Maxim came to stand at the side of the stage, pointing and singing to people. They are the kind of band that instantly connects with the audience, and keeps the audience involved all the way to the end.
The encore was immense. They played my favourite song of all time, ‘Out of Space’ which they had the crowd singing, and bloody hell it was heaven! Being so up close and personal to the guys while screaming along as loudly as I could, this really was the highlight of the night for me.
As always, the Prodigy left everybody is the audience gagging for more. After my 6th gig I was just as in love with them as I always have been. They just get better and better, and never fail to put on an absolutely exceptional performance. Bruises and all, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.