Somehow, The Prodigy shouldn't feel as vital, as snarlingly alive, as this. On the verge of releasing only their third album in 11 years (Invaders Must Die, due in spring 2009), the swift natural erosion of the innovation-hungry dance-music world should have ground them down into retirement, or at least into an embarrassing parody of their former selves.
Yet the Essex trio – plus live guitarist and drummer – have long since left limited electronic pigeonholes behind and moved into the realms of popular approval. What's surprising here, then, is not that they give all those who have followed them since "Firestarter" a taste of the old medicine, but that new tracks such as "Worlds on Fire" and "Run with the Wolves" shake the dice afresh and manage to sit comfortably alongside all that's gone before them.
The live show, too, remains a Manga-aping kind of cyberpunk fantasy. The group's founder members, Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Keith "Maxim" Palmer, are all around 40, give or take the odd year, but they remain physically powerful performers, particularly MC Maxim and dancer/vocalist Flint. They're both down to bare chest and vest by the end of the first song, and confronting each other across the stage in what looks like a shrieking, testosterone-soaked aerobics workout.
As ever, a fearsome sense of alpha-male aggression pervades the group's set. If the aim is to transport us to the lawless dystopian wasteland suggested by their stage set – dust-blown turbines and robot heads – then they come as close as they were ever going to.
Purists might yet find reason to mock the group's sound, which contains traces of the early-Nineties rave style from which they sprang, a kind of highly produced jungle techno that is their default setting and a few cavernously bassed dub breakdowns. In many respects it might be seen as old hat, particularly as last year's biggest musical trend was enough to create a generation gap between New and Old Ravers.
Still, when a band such as Klaxons can return to a stage 10 or 15 years from now and command the kind of frenzied ovations which "Poison" and "Voodoo People" saw here, then we'll know which version was best. The Prodigy can fairly be described as the techno equivalent of U2 or Oasis – the perfectly timed half-step they tread outside the pace of what's fashionable is just enough to ease them into the realm of the timeless rather than the overtly dated.
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