1998.06.29 – Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, USA

Date: 29th June 1998
Event: The Prodigy Concert – The Fat Of The Land Tour
Venue: Hammerstein Ballroom
City: New York, NY
Country: USA
Support: Meat Beat Manifesto


Extra info:
The gig was planned for 17th April, but postponed to 29th June.

Review by Ann Powers:
At times during the Prodigy’s show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Monday night, special effects — eye-dizzying lights, billowing dry-ice smoke and a strobe capable of inducing epileptic fits — so deluged the stage that the performers became shadows in the murk. Yet this only intensified the spectacle raised by electronic dance music’s most commercially successful act. The Prodigy sells a threat, akin to that of horror movies, cyberpunk science fiction and the heavy rock and hip-hop styles the group borrows from. And the scariest monsters are the ones that hide until they leap.
When the Prodigy broke through to the masses in Britain and the United States, naysayers mourned the triumph of crudity. Certainly the linear beats and unrelenting noisiness simplify the innovations of their sources, including other rock-oriented electronic acts like Meat Beat Manifesto, which opened Monday’s show with a highly musical set.
Yet Liam Howlett, who makes the Prodigy’s music using synthesizers and samplers, fathomed something more than the appeal of the lowest common denominator when he enlisted the services of the rappers Keith Flint and Maxim Reality (Keith Palmer) and the dancer Leeroy Thornhill. Mr. Howlett found his very own folk devils, and set them up as emissaries from techno’s psychic underworld. He and his companions embodied the dark side of the machine-fueled utopia embraced by electronic music: its violence, its connections to crime and war.
The mercenary personae inhabited by Mr. Flint and Maxim Reality (and, to a lesser extent, by the weirdly loose-limbed Mr. Thornhill) focus the aggressiveness of Mr. Howlett’s music. On Monday, these actors reveled in their parts. Mr. Flint, a punk-rock parody with a double Mohawk, leather jacket and sternum piercing, and Maxim Reality, bare-chested and dreadlocked in a ragged overcoat and kilt, presented themselves as the thug lords of technology, seizing the means of production to unleash liberating mayhem.
Their vocal contributions, largely chants like ”I’m the fire starter, evil fire starter” and ”I got the poison, I got the remedy,” acted as touchstones within the morass of sounds unleashed by Mr. Howlett. A drummer, Kieran Pepper, added muscle to the computer-generated beats. Gizz Butt, the band’s touring guitarist, was a visual foil rather than a serious musical contributor; like Mr. Flint, he reinforced the Prodigy’s punk identity.
The Prodigy’s music channels rage — sometimes directed at women, a disturbing but hardly surprising aspect of the group’s machismo — and its performers flaunt their worst impulses. Yet Monday’s performance felt uplifting. The Prodigy’s mostly young listeners live within vistas shaped by technology, and like every brave new world before it, this one must have its exorcisms. The Prodigy filled that need when it brought its demons to life.

Advert from Voice Choices, 19th May 1998:


Photos from the show:

1 comment to 1998.06.29 – Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, USA

  • Fitz

    Reviewer doesn’t mention the tour support Deejay Punk Roc. I was his TM, and watched this show from the wings. Incredibly good. Madonna turned up with Run DMC.

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