Sonisphere 2014: The Prodigy

The dance-rock crossover gang tear up Knebworth

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A dance act headlining a rock and metal festival, that can't work... can it?

Whenever The Prodigy get booked for a festival like this there’s always the naysayers who will argue loudly and in that CAPS LOCK they don’t belong in ‘our world’. And yet, when the headline slot does roll round nobody is complaining.

Back-lit and shrouded in smoke, the terrible trio of Keith, Maxim and Liam waste little time in revving Knebworth’s engine and sending the crowd veering into each other with Breathe and Voodoo People. Glowsticks are flying, shapes are being thrown, air is being grabbed and shit is being lost. If there was any doubt that The Prodigy don’t belong at Sonisphere then it’s all under the bridge as soon as the pits open to Omen.

It’s nothing short of a greatest hits set from a group who have been in this game longer than most other bands at the festival. 24 years of honing their sound into something this dirty and exhilarating surely deems them worthy of our respect.

The big screens are masked in various psych-out filters to add to the techno vibe but the distinct lack of any pyrotechnics is noticeable - especially as they’re being followed up by Iron Maiden and Metallica who will undoubtedly bring the big guns. But if want to see a laser show light up the sky like The Blitz then The Prodigy have you covered.

And for 90 minutes that’s what happens. You are smothered in the sound and atmosphere The Prodigy create and suck you into their dark and twisted rave den. From Firestarter to Invaders Must Die it’s a mix of old and new, but Smack My Bitch Up receives the strongest reaction as bodies start flying through the air and the drunken moshing goes into overdrive.

Closer Their Law rounds off what has been a very active and intensely loud opening day with the whole of Knebworth chanting “Fuck ‘em, and their law!”. The exclusion of Out Of Space is a slight disappointment but you wouldn’t have sacrificed any of the set tonight. It was a moment.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.