Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Prodigy - Live at the Rockwave festival (Athens, Greece 03.07.2011)

While digging up our old Prodigy records in anticipation for their concert on the third day of the annual Rockwave Festival in Athens, it dawned on us that The Prodigy are the Rolling Stones of our generation. The similarities are striking: both bands took an underground genre to the mainstream among widespread accusations that their "noise" was not music, they both made revolutionary anthems with controversial messages and themes in periods where the clean-cut boy band aesthetic ruled the airwaves, they both wrote powerful and energetic music that resonated in the youth of their generation and, finally, years after their peak, both bands surpassed all expectations refusing to stop doing what they do best. Admittedly, with the exception of a few good singles here and there, both band's latest records are nothing to write home about...yet it is in the live environment where even these 'lesser' songs come to life and approach the greatness of their classic siblings. Simply put, the confines of our home stereo systems don't do justice to the visceral music of these bands.

Read more and check out the rest of the photos after the jump 
Beyond the aforementioned realization, it's also noteworthy that The Prodigy have a special place in the hearts of Greek electronic music fans and have even shaped youth culture in the country (one need only recall the most popular haircut among rebellious Greek teens of the late nineties, ie Keith Flint's 'Nohawk', to comprehend the scale of the band's impact).

The band has performed in Greece, both in Athens and Salonika, many times over the years. Their first appearance in Athens was marked by intercrowd violence, which resulted in rocks being thrown on stage during their most popular song at that time "No Good (start the dance)". The concert was interrupted and the band had to leave the stadium "Vrachon Virona" to escape the violence and commotion.  This event, though unfortunate, only served to elevate the band to legendary status and left the crowd itching for more. More came soon after at their first appearance at the Rockwave Festival ten years ago. This time there were riots outside the concert resulting in cars being burned. In their last appearance before this year's Rockwave Festival the band played a muffled and barely audible show (though to be fair the venue was to blame) that also had some post-concert vandalism at the nearby cinema multiplex.

Needless to say when the Prodigy comes to Greece the expectation is that the authorities will be uneasy, the band will give it their all and their fans will put the fire in Firestarter. However, this time it didn't exactly go down like that.  It could be that their fans have matured or that their naughtier ones are in jail by now, or that the prospective trouble-makers were exhausted from the 45 minute drive outside of Athens, to get to the Terravibe Park, the venue of the Festival, which also required a grueling 45 minute walk in the summer heat from the parking to the stage. It could even be that the band before The Prodigy, the infamous Gogol Bordello, managed to single handedly kill everyone's buzz. Or maybe it was the fact that the band didn't perform the notorious riot inducing "No Good" (though we're surprised that a riot didn't start from the mere absence of the song from the bands set-list). Whatever it may have been, the crowd was much more mellow and seemed to be there exclusively to enjoy the music and dance frantically to Liam's huge rhythms and ear piercing melodies, urged on by Keith and Maxim's crowd pumping vocals. In the words of Maxim to his 'Greek Warriors': "The last time we played this festival was ten years ago. We're still here. You're still here". And we'll be there next time too. The Prodigy haven't lost any of their punch, charisma or relevance in the sphere of live electronic music.  We'd still rather witness this electronic mega spectacle over our favorite modern laptop electronic musician...and that's saying a lot. Highlights included old school classics such as "Out of Space", "Poison" and "Voodoo People" as well as newer tracks that, as we mentioned before, sounded incredible in the live setting.

Red Cup's favorite moment, which you can watch on our video at the top of this post, was during the epic "Smack My Bitch Up" when Maxim commanded the crowd to get down low. The crowd, though evidently puzzled, promptly obeyed until it all made sense when thousands of people launched themselves in the air at the signal of the song's only lyric. This rare goose bump inducing moment only drove our point home...the Rolling Stones may have represented the Generation X, but the Prodigy make music for the jilted generation. 

(Photos and Video by Vanessa Keen)

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