2002.08.25 – Reading Festival, Reading, England

Date: 25th August 2002
Event: Reading Festival
Venue: Richfield Avenue
City: Reading
Country: England
Support: see timetable

Tracklist:
1. Back 2 Skool Intro
2. Nuclear (v.3)
3. Breathe
4. Little Goblin
5. Smack My Bitch Up
6. Trigger
7. Out Of Space Link
8. Their Law
9. Nightboat To Cairo
10. Poison
11. Baby’s Got A Temper
12. Mindfields
Encore:
13. Firestarter
14. Fuel My Fire

Extra info:
Mainstage timetable:
22:35 – 23:30 The Prodigy
20:40 – 21:55 The Offspring
19:20 – 20:15 Slipknot
18:00 – 18:50 Incubus
16:50 – 17:40 NoFX
15:40 – 16:30 Puddle of Mudd
14:35 – 15:20 Hundred Reasons
13:45 – 14:20 Amen
12:50 – 13:25 Raging Speedhorn
11:50 – 12:25 The Dillinger Escape Plan

Prodigy played with saxophonist on stage (only for Nightboat To Cairo).

Review by Paul Brannigan (Kerrang, September 7th):
And finally, it’s the return of THE PRODIGY. The Essex techno-punks are on fighting form tonight, with imposing MC Maxim bragging, “This is another f**king level”. And they sound massive, explosive and, most importantly, hungry, not least on wickedly full-on new tracks ‘Trigger’ and ‘Nuclear’, which mix furious hip-hop barrages with Jim Davis’ snarling riffage. But there’s a playful side to The Prodigy tonight too, with Liam Howlett teasing old school fans with a snippet of rave anthem ‘Out Of Space’, then firing up a skanking beat for a wholly unexpected re-working of Madness’ ‘Night Boat To Cairo’. The highlight is Keith Flint’s snarling Firestarter of course, but long before it’s aired as an encore for a field of 60,000 happy dancing souls, The Prodigy have proved that they’re still leaders in a field of precisely one.

Review by Simon Price (The Independent, September 1st):
The Prodigy are the perfect festival band. Look, I know. You’re glancing at my photo and thinking “psycho Keith Flint fan” (I swear it’s a coincidence, and anyway, it’s an old picture). But any band with two frontmen of the calibre of Flint and Maxim Reality, and who can rattle off a sequence of hits like “Breathe”, “Poison” and the still-breathtaking “Firestarter”, then get the whole field nutty-dancing to an improbable cover of Madness’s “Night Boat To Cairo”, are ideal headline material. And you’ve gotta love their continuing desire to offend, trumping their own “Smack My Bitch Up” with a new single, “Baby’s Got a Temper”, which expresses their love of date rape drug Rohypnol. Bless them.

Review by Chris Withers (Bay-c Interactive, September 18th)
One of the biggest disappointments of Reading 2002, the Prodigy have decided to become a rock band. Tragedy, when the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on!
Now, by rock band, I mean punky shouty Keith fronting up a live drummer and live guitarist with Maxim looking like a glam rocker and Liam hiding in a mountain of strobes at the back.
Not a single tune was played off Experience, although Liam did tempt the crowd with just a hint of Out of Space, before meandering off somewhere less interesting. The obligatory, but welcome, bout of Poison followed later.
There was also a dire cover of some-tune-who’s-name-I-can’t remember (Dave – Help me out here!) which really felt out of place and would have shocked anyone who thought Prodigy were a dance act.
To give them their dues, the lighting and stage setup were pretty amazing and the crowd forced the atmosphere to be hot and sweaty regardless.
Still, it’s a shame really, they used to be one of the few dance acts that really had the energy for a main stage performance, but they’ve chosen to loose the edge and drudge into mediocrity.
New album due soon? Maybe they could get hold of Johnny ‘Rotten’ Lydon or even dig up Sid Vicious for a truly talentless punk edge…

Review by Michael Hubbard (musicOMH.com):
Headlining the last night of Reading is a fair bit of pressure for any band, no matter how experienced they are on the live circuit. You have 50,000 kids who’ve experienced a weekend of thumping rock music and some excellent sets, and they want something to better it all and send them home happy.
When you’re a band on whom such expectation rests and you haven’t played in the UK for years, the pressure is exacerbated. Prodigy took to the stage presumably expecting an emphatic welcome. What they got was hard work.
Aside from a hard core of fans in the centre, early tracks like Breathe didn’t seem to connect initially, and it took a great deal of time for the set to get going. There was almost no audience interaction from vocalists Maxim and Keith Flint, who seemed often lost for things to do. And Liam Howlett’s habit of pausing for breaks between songs made sure that any momentum each track built was swiftly squandered.
But the material made up for it. A Madness cover, complete with sax, showed they can do ska as well as the next band, and Poison and Smack My Bitch Up got the place pogo-ing as one for all it was worth. Recent single Baby’s Got A Temper also saw elbows waving in washing machine formations. Whatever reservations there might have been about delivery, the crowd had decided to enjoy itself.
Having been away for so long, we had expected a set of new songs, but this read like a ‘best of’ show. Fully half of The Fat Of The Land was played, the set closing with Firestarter and the superb Fuel My Fire.
With the vocalists little more than stage decoration, somehow the music had turned an otherwise average performance into the something special we’d all hoped for by the end.

Review by neko
As we have to get up at 7am again after another 4 hours sleep I almost start to feel sorry for ourselves. Everything hurts, but we have to get to Prestwick airport to catch our L4.50 flight with Ryanair to Stansted. Get the train to London Liverpool street station, quickly drop off our bags at home, take the tube to Paddington and then a train to Reading. Wahey, a bit before 4pm we actually already get there while again Puddle of Mudd are on. Wont bother getting to the front at this one, will act like an adult for once, breaking my rib at Reading 98 was enough for me.
But we watch NOFX now, they’re just the coolest. Incubus I ignore and spend the time meeting up with all sorts of people, Slipknot we watch from far away again, nothing special again. And Offspring? yeh, you guessed it ‘Reading, you’re the best audience we’ve had for a long time’ …
Prodigy are the closing act of the 3 day festival and deliver a similar gig to the last two nights. I know there have been some negative reactions afterwards, from a few fans and in NME particularly. As I am right thre at the gig though it feels literally as if there’s 50’000 people jumping at the same time. Again of course the new intro and the new Nuclear, which I actually really start to like now. Breathe and then Goblin which is kept very short tonight. the new fill from Glasgow isn’t played anymore. Smack my Bitch Up, Trigger and the Out of Space fill, followed by Their Law. The cover of Nightboat to Cairo gets a particularly good reaction tonight. Poison, then Baby’s got a Temper and Mindfields, followed by the encore Firestarter and Fuel my Fire.
Good ending to a great weekend and thanks to the always impressing Bristish train system we get back to London finally at 4am Monday morning. It was a busy weekend indeed.

Poster:

Pictures:

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