“Teatro Caupolican. As fast as you can.”
Had they seen it, The Prodigy would have been proud of my entrance. Taking me at my word, the taxi driver put his foot down, yelled at dithering pedestrians as he mowed them down and narrowly avoided a head-on collision outside the venue. It was pure adrenaline and very Prodigy.
Already inside the venue were a motley crew of lithe hipsters, ageing dance fans, punks and misfits. It was a typical audience for this impossible-to-pigeon-hole band who make rock for ravers and dance music for metal-heads. Whatever music you’re into, it’s an odds-on certainty that your mum won’t like The Prodigy.
Before the 28 October show, internet forums had been buzzing with righteous indignation at the change of venue and Primal Scream’s cancellation. But what no-one had seemed to realise was that The Prodigy don’t need support bands. They don’t need anything except a PA the size of a small country with enough bass for your face to vibrate.
The moment they stomped petulantly out onto the stage, all gripes were forgotten. Opening with World’s On Fire, Maxim worked the crowd like a psychotic fairground attendant (‘all my people of Chile, I can’t hear you!’) while Keith leapt across the stage as if suddenly released from a cage round the back. Then came Breathe with its infectious beat and snarly punk chorus and it all went off.
If Chile could somehow tap into the energy that The Prodigy produce live, all its future electricity needs could be met. While other bands speak to their fans through their lyrics, a Prodigy gig is all about the raw power and aggression of bass and beat with the amps racked up to 11. Subtle they are not.
Caupolican’s security staff looked on in bemusement as mild-mannered boys stripped to the waist, screamed at the stage and swirled their shirts around their head to Spitfire, while middle-aged men did themselves an injury busting their best moves. Bemusement turned to horror when Maxim asked the soundman to ‘give them the bass’ and a sweaty jumping mob, women included, shouted out the words to Smack My Bitch Up.
Indeed, if there had been an earthquake that night, no-one in the crowd would have noticed. With the bass loud enough to take your scalp off, several thousand heads bobbing like angry seagulls and twice as many bouncing feet, the venue quite literally jumped of its own accord.
Write in if I’m wrong, but 19 years on The Prodigy are still the best live band ever.