Still, Howlett was unrepentant, and the album sold well, shooting to No 1 and giving the Prodge a firm footing from which to launch a very swiftly sold-out UK tour last winter. Indeed, with Flint and Maxim back in the fold live, the tour has barely stopped running.
It's a bolshie Prodigy that take the stage in the courtyard of the old Inland Revenue offices, even if a slightly weathered-looking Flint has to sweat hard to play the livewire. Now sporting bleach-blond hair and a black boilersuit, he looks more like a public-services employee than the Public Enemy No 1 who gave parents the willies with his demonic demeanour in the video to the 1995 hit "Firestarter". Flint's role is what it was before he became a cartoon figurehead: dancing and sharing audience-baiting duties with Maxim.
Not that the crowd need much instigating. Subtlety isn't The Prodigy's poison: they're simply about what Howlett calls "that fists-in-the-air shit". There's plenty of it tonight, kick-started when Maxim leaps from a front-of-stage crouch into a run-through of the band's call to dance-rock arms, "Their Law". While Howlett frets over his electronics on his riser, Flint and Maxim spit and swear heroically.
What they do isn't deep, but it is fun. The Prodigy always trod the fine line between earnest intensity and near self-parody.
The encores - the clarion call-and-response of "Poison", the stridently silly "Smack My Bitch Up" - seem to race by at twice their frenetic pace. As befits an energised rock show that's about the moment rather than any lasting impact, not a minute is wasted. By the closing track, the full-pelt "Out of Space", everyone in the courtyard is dancing. For anyone looking for dirty grooves and a ridiculously good night out, The Prodigy aren't firing blanks yet.Reuse content