When talking about a group like The Prodigy, determining a list of best live performances is almost impossible. The British electronica outfit exploded on record and intimidated in music videos, but it was onstage that the band’s full vision of unbridled energy, anarchic upheaval and eye-popping presence could truly be understood. Every performance by The Prodigy was astoundingly absurd and inspiring. Indeed, The Prodigy’s very first show is an epic tale of music history.
As the story goes, founding member Liam Howlett had 10 demos recorded when he booked his first gig at London’s Labyrinth nightclub. His manager said he’d need an MC, and Howlett was referred to Maxim Reality. He brought Keith Flint onboard as an official dancer to further heighten the room. The resulting show was so unimaginably wild, The Prodigy was welcomed by club owners to play the very next week to an even larger crowd. Maxim and Flint were made permanent members of the band. The rest is history.
Anyone who ever saw the band in its 39 years will gush about how brilliantly raucous and abbrasive the experience was. It was a show that put you right in the moment, forced you to dance and left you a sweaty mess. As the news of Flint’s untimely death hits the music world, it’s hard not to think of him pogoing and thrashing under the moving lights, snarling and scoffing out the words of hits “Firestarter” and “Breathe.” It remains to be seen if and how The Prodigy may go on with performance plans in his wake, but today, we remember some of The Prodigy’s most iconic performances in Flint’s honor.
BBC2’s Dance Energy 1991
In 1991, The Prodigy had yet to drop its debut album Experience, but it had released two singles; “Charly” and “Everybody in the Place.” Both were noted hits in the U.K., and a choice performance on BBC2’s television series Dance Energy brought the group’s unchecked insanity onstage into living rooms around the country. Here, we see The Prodigy perform its second single, “Everybody in the Place.” It’s a rare thing to see The Prodigy on TV. The band later turned down Top of the Pops and other respected outfits. Fair warning, these camera edits will leave your head spinning.
A full two years before The Prodigy’s seminal album Fat of the Land made them international stars, the band was already a huge hit in its native England. The Prodigy made their Glastonbury debut in 1995 with an especially memorable performance that saw Flint enter the stage in a giant hamster ball. The band jumped and screamed and left their whole lives up there on that stage. The Prodigy would return to Glastonbury in 1997 as official headliners. The video above is a high-quality transmission of the opening tune “Break And Enter” from ’94s Music for the Jilted Generation. The video below is of lower quality, but it showcases the ’95 Glastonbury set in full.
Phoenix Festival 1996
The Phoenix Festival was an English alternative to Glastonbury, and though it was ultimately short-lived, this performance from The Prodigy remains a timeless favorite. Flint and the boys whip a wild frenzy under the midday sun with stellar performances of yet-unreleased tunes “Breathe” and “Firestarter.” Watch as Flint and Maxim scream back-to-back around the 7-minute mark and wonder why we don’t have rock stars like this anymore. A quick look through the comment section of this video, and you’ll see ravers of all ages claiming it as one of the absolute best sets they’ve ever witnessed.
MTV’s Fashionably Loud 1997
In the late ’90s, MTV cashed in on the era’s supermodel frenzy with an annual broadcast called Fashionably Loud. In 1997, the runway featured looks from punk and fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, soundtracked by The Prodigy, who now had become darlings of the cable music network thanks to insane music videos. Flint and Maxim ran around looking very grunge indeed, sparing the audience none of its rowdiness, inciting lots of moshing and jumping for a show unlike anything New York or Paris have ever seen.
Brixton Academy 1997
By the end of 1997, Fat of the Land had made The Prodigy, and Flint, stars of the big beat and electronica movement worldwide. This high-octane performance showcases the band at the height of its power playing to a hometown crowd that couldn’t be more proud. The band comes out the gate swinging, going right for the jugular with the controversial hit “Smack My Bitch Up,” a song whose seemingly mysoginstic lyrics and violent, mind-blowing music video got it banned from BBC airplay.
Rock Am Ring 2009
Another fan favorite is the widely-shared set from Germany’s Rock am Ring festival in 2009. The band was fresh off the release of that year’s Invaders Must Die, an album that incorporated work from Flint, Maxim and Howlett in the studio and returned to its Fat of the Land sound. This high-quality concert footage showcases the band’s renewed energy and proves that there really was no slowing down for The Prodigy.
World’s On Fire, Warrior’s Dance Festival 2010
In 2009, The Prodigy harnessed the power of its live show and curated a whole festival around that fire. The Warrior’s Dance Festival, named after “Warrior’s Dance” from 2009’s Invaders Must Die, ran for five years in locations as varied as Tokyo, Serbia and the U.K. It featured performances from Pendulum, MSTRKRFT, Skrillex and more. In 2010, The Prodigy’s headline set at England’s Milton Keynes Bowl was filmed, capturing the band’s largest gig to date in terms of capacity. It was released in 2011 as a live DVD called World’s On Fire. The set was mental as always, but now offered in high definition.
T in the Park 2015
The Prodigy returned in 2015 to this now-defunct Scottish festival for an impressive seventh time. It takes all of 30 seconds for the group to transform the crowd of all ages into a unified current of electricity. From the moment “Omen” opens with blistering drums and Flint’s iconic scream, it’s an hour and a half of maddening lights, blood-rushing beats and absolute crowd control.