21st Century Appearances: 2009 Main Stage, 2002 Main Stage Headliner
The Defining Reading Moment: Uncorking “Omen” in 2009 and proving that they were no nostalgia act, as the entire festival field bellowed back the track’s inescapable verse.
No one word describes The Prodigy at Reading Festival more succinctly than reliable. It may not sound sexy, it may even look a little odd; after all how can a snarling, scary, anarchic, drugged out bunch of ravers possible be reliable? Well quite frankly they’ve always been there when the festival has needed them.
And never did Reading need them more than in 2002. Axl Rose, in a typically Axl move, decided he would only play Leeds, and that forced the weekend’s subheadliner to step up, steal the show and send some disgruntled Reading goers home happy. That’s exactly what they did of course, because The Prodigy are used to headlining. They headlined Reading in 1996, and have fallen lower than second on the bill.
Part of Prodigy’s staying power lies in their ability to move with the times. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned looked like a career ending misfire in 2004, but by 2009 The Prodigy were not only back, they were legitimately better than ever. “Omen’ stormed into the charts becoming one the countries greatest dancefloor anthems, and it was followed up by blaring live staples “Take Me To The Hospital”, “Invaders Must Die” and of course the top ten hit “Warrior’s Dance”. Far from resting on their new material, Prodigy rebooted their original hits; “No Good” was made darker and more bleak, the band incorporated elements of Pendulum’s “Voodoo People” remix into their live performance, and even the playful rave anthem “Out Of Space” was transformed into a dubby industrial beast.
Suffice to say, when Prodigy took to their stage show back to Reading Festival in 2009 they absolutely smashed it, blending modernity and retrospection perfectly, and delivering one of the most memorable pure adrenaline rushes of a set in Reading history. David Hayter