1999.03.24 – The Big Nite Out, Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: 24th March 1999
Event: The Big Nite Out
Venue: MTN Sundrome
City: Johannesburg
Country: South Africa
Support: see lineup


Extra info:
The Prodigy
Sister Bliss
Heavy G
Battery 9

Report from ZA@PLAY:
Shame about the encore.
Live, Prodigy sound just like they do on the CD – only better. So why is Malu van Leeuwen* disappointed?
‘I ain’t fucking satisfied! I ain’t satisfied!’ Keith Flint of Prodigy is not satisifed with a screaming audience of thousands, he’s not satisfied with those hands in the air showing him the finger like all good dance punks. Flint marches round the stage with his hair (what there is of it) gelled into those famous spikes, and in a bomber jacket so ugly Vivienne Westwood would probably happily oblige and spit on it.
After a lacklustre performance by British support act Faithless, and an even more lacklustre one from Anti Gravity, any show of attitude is welcome. Prodigy specialise in it, not through their repartee as such – although the word ‘fuck’ is clearly listed first in frontman Maxim Reality’s onstage vocabulary – but via their music.
Of course the sound is huge for Prodigy, the stage lighting better (though far from the expected awesome) and the backdrop dramatic – difficult to say what it is, though a rough guess would be a bat chamber. No such luxuries for Anti Gravity, whose music must stand all on its own with little but three people and a computer to do the job. For such an ‘honour’ – to support two international big names in one night – it would be reasonable to say they certainly tried, but their songs and songwriting deserted them.
Faithless have the songs, despite a rather strange version of Insomnia, the track that put them on the international charts. It seems to be a trend among bands to deliver straight versions of album tracks that are not hits, and then get experimental with the ones that are. God is a DJ receives similar treatment, whereby the club anthem’s breaks and vocal delivery are mutated into a form that loses much of the plot. Damn it, man, we want to dance! Not to second guess where the parts have been altered.
Then again, it’s disappointing that Prodigy do give us exactly what we came for. No mucking about, or very little of it anyway. Firestarter, Breathe and Smack My Bitch Up sound just like they do when the CD player is turned up to 11. Only better. Funky Shit is funky but frankly also a bit shit without the aggressive vocals of the others, but Mindfields acquires a more powerful bassline.
The first 20 minutes of Prodigy are the best. Maxim’s rapping works with all the keyboards and loops and samples and live drumming; Giz Butt, the new guitarist used for live shows, could be used more – the man has presence. Unfortunately, the three other permanent members of Prodigy don’t. Not really, not considering how much they’ve been hyped as essential to the Prodigy live performance. Liam Howlett we can forgive, since he’s doing all the hardcore business behind the technological machinery; which is a pity since he looked rather sexy walking offstage, and to think he’s the one that writes all the music. The two dancers, we-ell …
So Keith Flint barks on a couple of numbers – ‘I’m the firestarter, I’m the instigator’. Well, is he? He spends most of his time onstage looking for a purpose to be there. Apparently he’s being taught to sing, and while he’s not bad at it, please, someone give the man something constructive (or destructive) to do.
Prodigy’s show is tight and focused, but it winds down without warning. Suddenly we’re all screaming for an encore – their parting goodbye is “Fuck the rhythm”. Hey, fuck you too, we’re not fucking satisifed. Firstly, fuck the dud encore you gave us. Electronic punks, what else can you expect? They shaft you just when you’re comfortably thinking they’re doing it for you. And secondly, you’d better fucking come back again.
* Malu van Leeuwen is music editor of SL magazine

Review by Chris:
The whole concert began at around 5:00pm, but The Prodigy would only be on stage at around 11:30pm. All my good friends and I arrived at the dome at around 5:30pm (About 10 of us). It was not so full so we got a good place infront of the stage. At that time, some stupid South African bands were playing some shit songs. Time went by… and the at around 10:00pm, Faithless came on stage… They were pretty good, I must admit it, but it still was not what I wanted!!! Faithless finished at around 11:00pm. And for half an hour, a shit South African DJ from Radio 5fm was playing some new crap rave songs. While he was playing… all I could see was a guy with a black leather jacket and dark brown hair standing on the side of the stage. Was it Liam? I looked carefully… and YES, it was him. He sat back very relaxed with a cigarette in his hand and he was just staring into the crowd. Obviously, me and my crazy friends had to get up on eachothers shoulders and show our middle finger to him… Liam just looked at us and had a huge smile on his face, we could see that he liked us.
Anyway… the time was 11:35pm, and we were waiting for the true stage madness to perform… The next thing you know, all the lights in the dome were shut off, and all you could see was Liam pop out of nowhere and he walked towards his keyboards. He alone with no one else on stage began to play around with his equipment (maybe to test the sound). He played some tunes I have never heard before… After a short while, there was dead silence. Then, suddenly, the hardcore drum beat of Smack My Bitch Up broke the silence!!! Keith ran on the stage raging and jumping around with the crowd going MAD!!! I just sat there with amazement… My favourite band had been right there infront of me!!! Anyway, I can’t remember exactly what songs were played at what time, all I know is that I have never jumped for 2 hours flat at a gig before! I just got all this energy from nowhere!!! For me, the best song of the evening was Their Law… I have never heard a person swear so many times in 1 sentence – it could only be Maxim 🙂
The music stopped for a while so Liam could take a break… and all you heard was Maxim saying: “Where the FUCK is Johannesburg?” Then, the crowd roared! It was lovely to hear people being controlled be Maxim.
The funniest was Leeeroy though, he was so stoned, he was just dancing like a monkey all night! He was great aswell.
The only thing that was different about Athens and Johannesburg is that we had Gizz Butt on the guitar. The thing that was the same is that all the members went off the stage… and when the crowd was shouting for more, they came back on and began to play Fuel My Fire, just like in Athens. After that, everyone knew it was over. Everyone began to slowly leave the dome, I just sat on the floor crying with my other good friends which are also huge Prodigy fans because we thought we would never see them again. The next thing you know, I met Keith a few days later and I had a full conversation with him… I did not know where I was at the time!


Photos from the show:

Backstage photos:

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