All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 98 – The Prodigy, Sunday, August 7, 2005, Brixton Academy

My second and so far last gig from the Prodigy.

There’s one very obvious thing to note about this gig: it did not, of course, happen on the date displayed on the ticket. The 7th of July 2005 is a date remembered for the terrorist attacks that occurred across London’s public transport system during the morning rush hour. The city went into standstill for much of the day, and no doubt fearing the potential for further attacks, this concert was postponed to a month later.

As I still lived in staff accommodation at the time, I had no morning commute to make, and so I would luckily not have been in any danger that day. But as it turned out I was, in fact, even further away from danger on the 7th of July 2005 – I was in the Maldives, on the one and only holiday I took with my Crush Boy. It had been booked at the last minute, and I’d decided that the chance for some time away with Crush Boy was worth giving up this gig for. However, it turned out I was able to go to the postponed date after all, once I returned to London.

And a good thing too, for upon our return from the Maldives in mid-July, Crush Boy decided he’d rather pursue a relationship with another woman and not me. Understandably, and appropriately, I was utterly crushed. So thank god for the fact that I had an August ahead of me full of gigs with my Glam Best Friend, the first of which being this riotous show from the Prodigy.

Unfortunately for this blog post, however, I was fully in my Can’t Be Bothered To Write About Gigs phase, and have no notes to go on from my diary for this gig. My main memory is that, true to our plans hatched at the previous year’s Prodigy show, Glam Best Friend and I ventured right into the thick of the crowd instead of standing at the back. This made it an extremely sweaty and cramped affair, with less room to dance than we’d had the previous December, and so of the two Prodigy gigs I’ve attended, I have fonder memories of 2004’s.

And so, this is, for now, my last Prodigy gig. Some years later, around 2013 or so, I did have an invite from my Glam Best Friend to join her and some of her new and even more glam mates at a Prodigy show, but I was put off by its late start and finishing time of around 2am. In 2018, I pondered going to see the Prodigy on their latest tour, but didn’t really fancy trekking to Alexandra Palace.

Finally, on the morning of the 4th of March 2019, I thought my chance had finally come to see them again. A notification pinged up on my Facebook account telling me that the Prodigy were going to play the South West Four festival in Clapham Common that August. That’s just a stroll down the road for me! Of course I would go!

It seemed positively unreal, later that same day, when I glanced at Facebook again to see tributes being paid to Keith Flint, who had taken his own life. I couldn’t believe that such a powerful, vibrant force that had lit up the music world for nearly three decades could be gone.

In the days following this shocking news, my mind kept returning to one moment in 1996. Still living in Australia but obsessed with the UK music scene, I was in the habit of waking myself up at 2.30am on Tuesday mornings to tape the latest UK chart countdown from the BBC World Service. Usually, I’d fall straight back to sleep once I’d pressed record, but this particular morning I decided to listen to the whole countdown. And that is when I heard “Firestarter” for the first time. To hear something so shocking, so unique and startling beaming across the world from the number one position of the UK charts was truly awe-inspiring. I knew then that my generation had our “Anarchy In The UK”, our anthem for the dispossessed.

Hearing “Firestarter” that morning was one of the defining moments of my music-obsessed youth, and it was indescribably thrilling to actually see Keith performing it in the flesh at the two Prodigy shows I made it to. But now, I find myself thinking of all those opportunities I missed to see this most incredible live band – from V97, to the above-mentioned shows. The Prodigy are carrying on making music, which makes me hugely happy, and I have no doubt that the live Prodigy experience, whenever world events conspire to allow us to revisit it, will be full of the same raucous thrills that I experienced in 2004 and 2005. But it will, of course, never be the same.

I don’t want to wallow in sorrow here though. I never knew Keith, of course, and however sad I feel at his loss, it is nothing compared to what those who were close to him must feel. But it’s still true that my life was enriched by his presence in the music scene of the 90s and beyond. So for now, I just want to celebrate the fact that I had a youth that was brightened and electrified by the music of the Prodigy, and that I was lucky enough to witness them live with the thrilling and magnetic presence of Keith Flint at the helm.

And whenever the Prodigy tour again, however late the gig ends or far across London the venue may be, I will make damn sure to be there.

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