2002.07.13 – Witnness Festival, Ratoath, Ireland

Date: 13th July 2002
Event: Witnness Festival
Venue: Fairyhouse Racecourse
City: Ratoath
Country: Ireland
Support: see timetable

Tracklist:
1. Army March Intro
2. Their Law
3. Trigger
4. Breathe
5. Little Goblin
6. Smack My Bitch Up
7. Baby’s Got A Temper
8. Seat Beach Fill
9. Mindfields
10. Nuclear (v.2)
11. Poison
Encore:
12. Firestarter
13. Dust Yo’self
14. Fuel My Fire

Extra info:
Mainstage timetable:
23:00 The Prodigy
21:30 Foo Fighters
20:00 Green Day
18:30 The Frames
17:00 The Hives
15:30 Jimmy Eat World
14:05 The Bluetones
13:00 Beverley Knight
12:00 Turn

Info from Kerrang:
Nuclear Assault
Prodigy preview explosive new tracks in Ireland.
PRODIGY returned to live action on July 13 with a blistering headlining set at Ireland’s Witness festival.
The Essex techno terrorists previewed by guitar-heavy new tracks ‘Trigger’ and ‘Nuclear’ from their forthcoming ‘Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned’ album – alongside current single ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ and familiar favourites ‘Firestarter’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ – in front of a 40,000 crowd wich included Dave Grohl, Irish World Cup hero Robbie Keane and Liam Howlett’s new wife (ex-All Saint) Natalie Appleton.
“It’s good to be playing live again,” said Howlett afterwards. “We used to come here every New year’s Eve because it’s the best party place.
“Witness is part of the lead up to our Reading festival apperarance,” he added. “And there’s only a couple of english bands in the Main Stage on that day we’ll be rocking out in full technicolour and regalia.”
Howlett stated that “Baby’s got a temper is likely to be ommited from the final running order of the new Prodigy album, as he sees it as a “bridge” between the new album and 1997’s “The Fat Of The Land”. At present, only five songs – “Nuclear, Trigger, Vacation, No Souvenirs (feat. 3D from Massive Attack) and the title track – have been completed for the eagerly-awaited “Always outnumbered, Never Outgunned” Howlett predicts a March 2003 release for the album.

Review by John Walshe:
The night has finally turned black after one of the sunniest days of the year. The air is filled with pumping hip-hop beats: mood enhancers for the chemical generation. ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’, indeed. Suddenly, the music stops. “DO YOU WANT IT?” screams a voice from the bowels of the backstage area. The crowd roar back in the affirmative. Welcome to Planet Prodigy.
Before you know it, the imposing figure of Maxim Reality has taken centre stage. “It’s been a long time, but it’s never too late,” he admonishes the crowd, as if it’s our fault The Prodigy have been away for so long. The drums kick in; Liam Howlett’s trademark screech starts its demonic wail; the guitar is cranked up to mind-altering levels; and Keith Flint is pounding across the stage like an Olympic athlete possessed by some ancient evil.
Maxim and Keith play no good cop/bad cop routine: these boys are bad to the bone and they are intent on dragging the assembled masses down into the pit with them. “This ain’t no fucking game son,” spits Maxim at one point. Later, during an appropriately incendiary ‘Firestarter’, the dreadlocked vocalist is shadowboxing with one of the security guards to the right of the stage, before going one step further, and pushing him.
During ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, both vocalists end up in the security pit that separates the audience from the stage, Flint returning draped in a tri-colour, while his colleague is again rubbing the security personnel up the wrong way.
Current single, ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ is similarly in-yer-face and hostile. There is something disconcerting about seeing kids, perched on their parents’ shoulders, punching the air in time to the chant of “Rohypnol. Rohypnol. ” How many people knew it related to the infamous drug associated with date rape? How many cared?
The pace rarely slows below frantic, and yet it all gets a bit samey and predictable by the third quarter, not to mention confusing, when Maxim opines that “This ain’t no funfair shit. This ain’t no coffee percolator shit”. Nobody’s quite sure what the fuck he is talking about; maybe he doesn’t know himself.
Thankfully, they raise the tempo yet again for a breakneck finale, Maxim howling like a ravaged she-wolf while Flint roars about how he has both the poison and the remedy: if this man was your local GP, you’d stay at home sick for fuck’s sake. The lightshow flickers and flashes, the beats pump and effects crash, and yet all too soon it’s over: no goodbyes, no bows and it seems the Foo Fighters have used up the day’s quota of fireworks. Still, as ever, The Prodigy live are a bloody unique experience. Send them home sweating? Bollocks: they send them home bleeding.

Review by Dessie:
When the MC comes out shouting ?do you want it? it means only one thing: Prodigy time. the crowd are going bananas, there is a real burst of life from the crowd once more… there is a real buzz, the chemistry seems to be just right for the prodge to blow the top of the place.
Keiron and liam walk out first taking their positions as normal. Remember this is the first time the irish people have seen Keiron behind the drums and theirs murmurs of ?ooh what?s this? the fans seem to be impressed.
The military intro kicks in. Keiron pounding on the drums whilst liam builds the baseline .the tension is unbearable at this stage?so maxim walk out very calmly. Hugh roars from the crowd go up for maxim then the theatrics of Keith Flint and his many faces joins the show also Jim Davies takes his place?the people are going nuts?
The opening riffs of THEIR LAW start to echo throughout the field an old favourite with the prodigy mob that has turned out to see their hero?s?screams of appreciation go up when they hear this song?when those opening beats kicks in nobody remembered that?s its been 5 years?all of a sudden their was a sea of people moving in the same motion?..it was just to die for.
To our surprise we start to hear the opening riffs to something new?then this real heavy rock link starts to play?it lasts for about 2 mins?its nothing spectacular, people are just looking on?keiron is like animal from the muppets at this stage showing real aggression on the drums?.but the sound from this is too much attitude and no substance?people didnt like it…
Next up was TRIGGER a song I hate personally?its sounds so dated. I was a bit worried things where going to go stale from here on in?but to my surprise the crowd loved it?they really took to it. I looked around in amazement, once again I though ?blimey? maybe the NEW prodge stuff is going to be excepted like the FOTL and JILTED stuff?I was pleased trigger went down well. The vibe from the crowd at this stage was great. Once trigger was done and dusted the opening riffs of BREATHE starts to play?I find breathe a bit dull by this stage but it?s a real crowd pleaser with the festival goers?the next thing we hear is the New fill called little goblin or goblin Im not too sure?anyways it sounds great?dark, atmospheric could really turn out to be something major on the next album who knows?
At this stage Im thinking after 3 songs and 2 fills the people are really enjoying themselves?the old spark might be back, then as I hear SMACK MY BITCH UP building steam Im thinking this is heaven?best song of the night from the prodge ..sheer mayhem, things just cant get any better than this?the poeople are loving it
Now the opening melody from BABYS GOT A TEMPER comes in, I was expecting a great reception from the crowd for this tune?.but man I was soooooooooo wrong. It got a real half hearted clap it was almost like I was a cricket match?as the beats pounded not very many people were moving to this. THUMBLE WEED CITY?..YAWN. I feared the crowd had been lost, after such a great opening?.they just didn?t take to BGAT?.when I hear MINEFILDS slowly growling away after BGAT I was thinking this will get some people moving again?but no its seems the crowd has lost interest at this stage, a few people bobbing their heads in through hip hop fashion to minefields but not really getting into the song at all. Almost as if they feel obliged to dance to these songs.
Now another New song gets played, NUCLEAR..this sinks like a led balloon, people just cant believe the shit their hearing?..the gig has just gone flat?
So after the shite I just heard that was NUCLEAR I was never so glad to hear POISON?..Im jumping around like some kind of caged animal at this stage im not really bothered to what?s going on around me?.for a few mins I felt like a kid again 😉
After poison we hit the 45mins mark into the set, the band walk off the stage to the crowds surprise?this is where I feared things are going to get messy?so after the screams of the usual we want more chant, liam appears one hand in the air in an alan shearer type stance?the rest soon follows
Instantly the FIRESTARTER riffs gets unleashed? the place is buzzing again it?s the one song that I think everybody knows and wants to hear?so when it ends, to my surprise I hear another new fill, might be called dust yoself?.I wasn?t really impressed, lasted for about 50 seconds maxim rapping over the top, jim davies playing some funky guitar riffs?but what disappointed me was liam wasn?t doing any of the beats?.he was playing around with the baseline whilst keiron was pounding on the drums?.so I was a bit disappointed with this.
Now to cap it all off and put this rather predictable set to bed was FUEL MY FIRE?I think by this stage people had enough and wanted to return to their tents?.didn?t really get anyone going or moving?as the band walk off after about 57min mark people are still waiting in hope that the band will come back out?but theirs no chance of that?.
So overall I have to admit personally I was disappointed after such a great opening the set fizzled away maybe with an adoring irish fanbase aswell?
But I think the general feel from the crowd was ?The prodigy where OK?.not great, but not bad?. One of my mates asked me what would I have given them out of 10, I said 6.
I think that?s sums the performance up.
Highlights of witnness: Lemon jelly (saviours) and chemical Brothers (aggressive and awesome) a real return to form for the brothers, even though I didn?t catch their full set L
Worst moment?s: Nuclear, fuel my fire and Ian browns singing
Best Dj set : soul wax: played out of space J mixed into fisherspooner. I also never though Id be moshing to destinys child

Review by Magic Alex:
[…]The Prodigy were scheduled to come onstage at 11pm, headlining the main stage. I watched a ‘king blinding set from The Chemical Brothers until about 10.50pm and then myself and Nal briskly made our way over to see the band.
We ended up being about 20 meters from the stage but could see everything. As 11pm ticked past the crowd were “treated” to some old hip-hop from Public Enemy “Dont Believe the Hype” and the Black Sunday album by Cypress Hill. An album released in 1994. I know
the irony isn’t lost on all of you…………..
Ahem.
So, the roadies hoist up the now familiar “Star” logo for the band behind the already assembled keyboards and drum riser. The stage is set for a cracker. But the band wait until 11.30pm to take to the stage. Nerves? Arrogance? Ill let you decide…. but suffice to say over the entire weekend of this brilliantly run festival the Prodigy were one of the only bands to not take to the stage as planned. The crowd around me were genuinely positive. A few “Prodigy Prodigy Prodigy” chants…. one or two “Hurry up
you lazy cants!” from Nal…..;]
So some twit comes out and introduces them – yawn – get on with it lads. Liam takes to the stage followed by Kieron. The drum intro starts… the crowd start going fucking berserk now as Maxim and that other guy come onstage. The cheers drown out the Kinks sample… so I don’t really get to hear it. So what…. this is my sixth Prodigy gig and my first since 1997 so I am facking raring to go…. Maxim gives a customary “Its been a long time Ireland…… but its never too late….!” type address to the throngs of people (id say there was <30000 at the main stage by now) … the other guy is running around like a maniac as usual… then they begin.
Their Law kicks us off…. it was fantastic….. as i said to Nal at the time it was one of the best renditions of it ive heard. The crowd were going fucking ballistic and the band seemed to be enjoying it too…. Shawn Michaels superkicks from Maxim 5 minutes in… sweet. There was a mini fill with some token vocals by Maxim… pretty non-descript track… no real impact on the crowd.  Next we got Trigger… and I have to agree with Des here, despite my abhorrence of the track it went down surprising well at Witnness. Could have been a spillover effect from the first animal salvo from the band… but for whatever reason it seemed to be the most successful of the new tracks on the night. Which was no great claim to make. They all stink in my book. Ive heard nothing to change that assertion and this gig did nothing to improve
my admittedly negative opinion. Then Liam played Breathe… it was nearly like Karaoke-Prodigy at this point with revelers shouting every nuance of the track at the top of their lungs…. I actually thought to myself “Christ – they still have it” during Breathe… like Their Law it was one of the best performances ive heard of
this track…. so the first 20 minutes or so of the gig have gone down brilliantly…. the main lighting effect on stage is a blood red colour and the band look as vital and vibrant as ever…. would I be proved wrong I thought as the mighty Breathe finished?
The Massive-Attack style fill “Goblin” was played after Breathe… like the last fill I can’t really see the point in Liam dropping these 90 second tracks in these gigs….. they don’t enhance the buzz at all IMO….. maybe if it was a full 3 minute version I’d get as exited as other people seem to – but I can’t find anything really interesting to say about this wee thing. Having just seen the Chemical Brothers play 90 MINUTES of ingeniously psychedelic completely reworked material before the Prodigy – this cheap
little snippet from Howlett is a plain _embarrassment_ in my book.
Back to known territory with Smack My Bitch Up next and its another
success… the crowd are lapping this up…. everyone around me is pogoing like the old days and im really enjoying seeing the band again…. the bass on the PA at Witnness was given a serious once-over by the Prodigy and SMBU was a highlight of the weekend for me… its one of Howlett’s strongest tracks….
Next is BGAT… <shiver>…….. It bombed. I couldnt fucking believe it….. I thought that the majority of the Witnness faithful would lap it up…. I thought that it would be one of
the big tracks of the whole weekend – despite my personal take on the track.
Basically that other guy is not up to much….. the other guy tries so hard to be some kind of anarchic icon…. but the track stank to high-heaven. No cheers when it started like the other tracks, no big crowd response reflex, no atmosphere… and things gradually began to unravel from here on in. What a pity. I feel sorry for Liam…. a huge massive back-log of classic dance tracks in his locker and he has to pander to the other guy’s complete lack
of talent. So very sad indeed. With Jimmy Goose Davies on stage I would have sold my soul to have heard the ’95 version of Break and Enter… Liam could still have kept his rock-chic image with that one couldn’t he? And what about Claustrophobic Sting? Rhythm of Life? One Love? Funky Shit? Out of Space? No Good? Molotov Bitch? Liam’s mix of the Chem’s Voodoo People………? I think ive proved my point. “Fucks sake – trying to enjoy this facking gig man….”
We then get Minefields – a personal favourite – and its okay I guess. The Witnness PA is the star of the show here again…. it is pretty focking loud…. Maxim doesn’t think the crowd are loud though – understandably the buzz has been completely lost from this gig…. the other guy jumps down into the front row and emerges back on stage brandishing an Irish Tricolor like a crazed revolutionary…. he then tied it round his waist for the rest
of the track…. his best work of the night.
Nuclear was next…..  hmmmmm….   the crowd are completely alienated by now. I felt sick listening to it. It is a complete piece of crap. Anything would have been better than this – even the piss-poor version of Ghost Town would have created some kind of a buzz. Maybe in Eastern Europe or the States Nuclear will work as a track where the really harder edged stuff may or may not go down a treat…. but in Ireland anyway the fans _just don’t get it_ …. We’ve grown up with the band playing cracker after cracker at
live shows…. placing this rancid excuse for a punk track at the very heart of the gig is unforgivable… and the response at the end of the track is muted at best….
Poison comes to our rescue next… but dare I say it – the track has gotten old. Their Law still kicks IMO but Poison and its trademark “Get ready for part two – the presssurrrrrre!” from Maxim is getting a bit staid in 2002. Great beats, animal sub-bass……. but the other guy bumming in on it ruined a great track this time around…. what is Liam thinking?
And then – they leave the fucking stage! HAHAHAHA! Headlining the first festival in the UK or Ireland in years and the main portion of the gig is over in a little under three-quarters of an hour. Abysmal stuff Howlett. Do this at Reading and you will get bottled off. Even dogs in the street knew that they’d come back and the other guy would do his two Fire choons. How exciting.
They come on and play another demo…. nowt special again….. I was half hoping to myself that they’d play the opening chords to Weather Exp  – but not to be this time. I understand that this is the much-vaunted “Dust Yoself”…… dust my hairy arse more like. It was average. Can’t remember it too well – unlike huge portions of the gig by Prodigy labelmates Lemon Jelly on Sunday whose gig was 70% new material….. for any of you Orbital fans out there…. man……. LJ were just excellent in the Dance Tent. As I discussed with Des, the Prodigy’s successes have enabled XL to sign bands
like Lemon Jelly…. so at least there’s _that_ to be thankful for. Their new album “Lost Horizons” will be out later in the year and I for one am looking forward to it far more that AONO.
The other guy came out and sang his two fiery “anthems” …. yippedydoodaa. The second half of “Firestarter” was actually pretty neat….. the crowd responded with a few moments of old-school prodigy gig vibes…. then Fuel My Fire was played and I wished I had gone over to see Air with some of my other buddies…. how depressing. So depressing in fact that I realised that the keyboard motif middle-eight on FMF is more or less a complete rip-off
from the Theme to Michael Barrymore’s Strike It Lucky. Think about it. The band left after that…. Liam and Maxim didn’t really give a shit about the fans it seemed as they both left the stage so fast….. I wasn’t looking to see what the other guy was doing.
——————————————
All in all a massive chance to reclaim old titles went by the wayside. Prodigy are a spent force…. Liam seemed well and truly arsed with the whole thing…. an adoring fanbase was cheated again. The new stuff sucked and the whole vibe of the gig was ruined as a result. We _should_ have got one of the tracks I named above. The set-list hasn’t changed from the gigs played in Europe last year….. how very very disappointing. Liam seems to have no confidence in his back catalogue – this is a fatal mistake to make….. if he dropped Charly to the adoring crowd at Witnness I
would probably be here claiming the man is God like years gone by. But they made no attempt to personalise the gig. That’s a selfish thing to do IMO…. They didn’t even play for an hour….. shameful. This was the first time the majority of this crowd had seen the band. Depressing. After the Point NYE 1995 I was convinced I’d seen the future. I would never have even imagined a future like this. Think twice before you believe some of the hype from other sources. And thanks for reading.

Review by neko:
[…] But now it’s almost time for Prodigy. I can already feel it in the air that this gig is gonna be better than last week. Next to me is big Prodigy superfan. “What haircolour do you think Keith will have today?”, he asks his mate “I guess green or blue”, and a big discussion starts. The new backdrop for Prodigy with the new logo gets revealed now. “I liked the old one with the spider much better, the spider was so cool”, says superfan. errrr.
And yes, at 11.20pm The Prodigy finally start that long-awaited show. the audience is more than up for it and a very excited atmosphere is in the air. You can tell there are a lot of big long time Prodigy fans around here who have been dying to see the band again for years, so now they better be good tonight! As usual Liam and Kieron start the show with the army march intro, soon followed by Maxim’s shouting “It’s been a fucking long time, Ireland!”, which marks the entry of him, Keith and guitarist Jim, who’s appearing to be missing his gig with own band Pitchshifter in London tonight in order to play with Prodigy, onto the stage.
Big cheers from the audience, and at least at the front where I am standing, the atmosphere is great. Their Law follows, the most perfect ever live track. And already during this track you can tell that the band are trying very hard to get it right tonight and well, it works, the audience love it and the band appear to be enjoying themselves as well. Despite being one of the oldest tracks played at Prodigy’s shows these days, it describes The Prodigy better than anything else. wicked.
I would expect the new fill from last week to be played after Their Law again, but it isn’t. ‘Shame’, I think, as Trigger starts after a very short small fill. Although still a new and kind of unknown track by The Prodigy, it gets a really good reception, definitely better than the new Foo Fighters tracks did. Breathe then is wicked, obviously one of the most well-known tracks, gets down very well and as always pleases the masses. Goblin, the oldest of the new fills, then comes on, the most downtempo part of the show, and a chance to breathe. I think there are new vocals to it as well, but it slows down the whole thing a bit.
But not for long, as Smack My Bitch Up is next, and as always a highlight of the gig, still one of the best live tracks of the set. This is followed by Baby’s got a Temper, the new single, and unfortunately the reception it gets is not very good at all, unlike you would expect it from the new single. People’s reaction is more a bit as if it was a completely unknown new track and not the big new single that’s currently at no.5 in the UK charts.
Following BGAT is again not the expected Dust Yoself, but the new fill as it was premiered at last week’s Beach Rock in Belgium. For some reason I think it sounds so much better today. I don’t know whether they have changed anything but it works a lot better for me now than it did last week. A dark bassline, filled with beats and a howling guitar (?) line (but no live guitar), pretty cool.
Mindfields is next, vocals by Maxim only today, who delivers a brilliant performance. Meanwhile Keith steps down to the audience once more and is balancing along the front row barrier, not bothered by all the people who are trying to pull him down into the audience. Nuclear follows, the ‘punk’ track. I personally love it as a live track, but the audience does not receive it as well as Trigger. I think that many of the people who came here today are pretty big fans of the band, but have not seen them live for quite a while, so they expect them to still sound like they did in 1995. It’s those people that are then complaining that Charly, Break and Enter and Voodoo people were not played and it’s exactly the same people who then are dissing Baby’s got a Temper for not having moved on since The Fat of The Land. But, The Prodigy HAVE moved on. Compare a show from 1997 with a 2002 show. There’s a new live drummer, more tracks with live guitar than before and a dancer is gone. There is change, but its evolution this time, not revolution.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see those old tracks played as well and Jilted is still my favorite album ever, but what is the point of going around and blaming the band for not playing their old material instead of new material written for the new album we are all dying for? And at the same time blaming the band for being ‘stale’ and still sounding like they used to? And it’s especially funny if some people are actually having a personal go at me now for actually liking the band. ha ha.
nyway, Poison is the second ‘old’ track played and goes down well, but when its finished the band already leave the stage. Everyone knows they’re gonna be back, and after about 90 seconds Liam indeed walks back onto the stage, followed by the others.
Probably the biggest crowd response of the night when Fireastarter starts. A crowd pleaser. Everyone and their mother know that track. Following that is, I am pretty positive, Dust Yoself.
I cannot be sure, as I’ve only heard Dust Yoself once, 3 months ago, in Las Vegas. And as if it was supposed to stay a mystery, again this time there seems to be no live recording of the track around at all and all we have is a fading memory of a track driven by heavy breakbeats and guitar. Wicked though. The predictable ending to the gig is Fuel My Fire, which tonight is full of energy and makes me wish this gig would go on longer. But after exactly 60 minutes The Prodigy end this gig, and although I feel much happier with this gig than last week, it just feels way too short.
Already can’t wait for Carling weekend…

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Backstage pass (thanks to Jim Davies @jimdaviesmusic):

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