After hearing about the sad and premature death of Keith Flint recently, it had me reminiscing hard about the two Prodigy gigs I attended in recent years. They were gigs that I will forever remember for being insane. Not that I expected any less, but actually witnessing them in person is a memory I will have for a long time.
Eight of us went down to the festival in 2015 if I remember correctly. My sister and a bunch of friends that all bought tickets for that summers IOW fest. It is a huge festival in the UK, not quite Glastonbury sized but big enough to be known internationally. 58,000 people went down to see the acts including Billy Idol, The Black Keys, Blur, Pharrell Williams, Fleetwood Mac and Paolo Nutini, amongst many others. And of course, The Prodigy.
Now as with any UK music festival, expect rain. Even in the summer. What I love about the Isle of Wight is that it is one of the most southern points of the UK, meaning it can get some really nice sunshine in the summer months. As you can see in the first picture with my friend, we got on a flight down to Southampton before boarding a ferry to cross the water. This made it feel like a right holiday. That and the blue skies.
That was until the evening of ‘the gig’. We had storms which added to the atmosphere however with tens of thousands of people trampling through wet fields, things got muddy fast. And with the Prodigy gig imminent this was to make for a fun evening.
I didn’t get any footage of the concert as I kept electronics in the tent. I had no waterproof electronics and didn’t want to damage anything. I just have the memory. Very old school, I know.
I remember it kicking off pretty much straight away, I was with Wigz and my sister. But after a few minutes, I wasn’t with anyone. I am not sure if you have been in such a crowd at the front of such a gig, but remaining standing is hard let alone staying with the people you arrived with. What I do love about festivals is that as brutal as the crowd may be, if someone falls they are pulled straight up again. People work together like that and gigs are always friendly experiences. From my experience anyway.
I remember bright lights, I remember the iconic sounds of their songs, and I remember trying to stay alive. Within five minutes, whatever cheap pair of shoes I bought from Topman were as expected, ruined. Cheap shoes or wellies are vital for such an evening. One popped off my foot like a cork from a bottle and was never seen again. Not that I looked, that would be an impossible task. The remainder of the gig, about 99% of it, I spent hopping on one foot. The amount of times my foot was unintentionally stamped on I am surprised I didn’t break. I couldn’t walk for two weeks afterwards.
Every now and then I would catch glimpses of my sister and friend in amongst the crowds. One memory I have was of my sister. She suddenly appeared next to me again with a bloody nose. I didn’t even ask how it happened, it was obvious. Not that she would have heard me anyway. Seeing her face in the strobe lights reminded me of the exorcist or something. After this I did not see her or my friend again, and I was shoeless. I remember looking for them after it finished, considering the fact that they might (hopefully) be at the tent and walked back. I picked up on of the hundreds of shoes that were left abandoned and used it to walk home in. I didn’t put it on, that would be a crazy move. Instead I put my foot on top of it and used it as a kind of ski, sliding on the slippy, muddy path home. I remember two people kissing on a barrier too which fell backwards, as did they. This was met with a big cheer from everyone walking by.
When I did get back, worryingly my sister wasn’t there. But soon afterwards to my relief a group of people- I think mainly girls- saw she was alone and walked with her. Another reason I love festivals, people can be trusted and are willing to help if it is needed. They followed her back to the tent to know we were reunited and we stayed with them the rest of the night for a couple of drinks and music. We had a great evening to follow a crazy but amazing gig.
The hangover wasn’t the best the following day though.
I wonder how many shoes fell off people that day, and where my shoe ended up. Their gigs do that to shoes. I went to another gig more recently but in Newcastle this time, next door to the hotel I worked at. The venue was the o2 Academy and I remember the heat from the gig hitting us as we walked through the front doors, despite having to climb two sets of stairs to actually be in the main room.
What was even more incredible were two fans that were near the front row. I shit you not, two people that got to have been in their late 70’s, maybe even 80’s left the front of the crowd and exited the building close to the end of the set. As we were a little late arriving and how packed the building was, we were forced to the back. I remember a wave of sound from the crowd cheered as they left, and they fought through the crowds holding hands and walked right by us. Much love and respect to them.
And with that, I ask. Have you any crazy memories from any gigs? Or are festivals not your thing? There is little I like more than a good weekend away to see a bunch of bands play in a fields with friends and a beer in hand, even if it means losing a shoe and almost breaking a foot. Let me know any experiences you have had, I am eager to hear them.
RIP Keith Flint.
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