The early 90s was all about indie nights for me. I fucking loved ‘em too. Then one of the DJs at Silhouette in Hull played Hyperspeed. My initial reaction was one of revulsion, with a bit of indignation thrown in for good measure. “Where are the guitars?” The next week the DJ played Out of Space. My reaction was the same. Dance music was what people in Manchester listened to, and this was Hull.
But you couldn’t help but notice the dancefloor. People were going mental. It just looked like fun. A couple of weeks later, I joined them. Those early days of discovering the Prodigy and those who were to follow mostly in their wake were tremendous. Indie and dance together. This was bliss. It was also fucking good fun. Few albums mean as much to me as Experience, which I grew to love and appreciate in ways I never thought possible after hearing those first few songs. The Prodigy broadened my mind in ways that few others bands have ever really managed.
I enjoyed reading the readers’ comments on The Guardian following the sad news that Keith Flint of The Prodigy has taken his own life. This resonated with my own experiences in Hull, albeit 10 to 15 years later.
Out of Space is probably the first dance track I ever heard, I think. I used to listen to it all the time and in complete isolation, like it was the only song of its kind to ever exist, and that was likely from that very experience of hearing it at an indie night rather than a dance night.
Hull has never really been into its dance music. Not like in other cities. There were a few crossover acts around at that time that would drag people out of themselves and into something between worlds… But that was usually the weekly rendition of Pendulum’s “Blood Sugar” rather than anything halfway decent.
Keith Flint felt like a proper egresser, in that respect. The videos for “Firestarter” and “Breathe” had a “Come To Daddy” quality of not really caring if you dance to it or not. The main thing it wants to do is dragged you kicking and screaming out of yourself. As for many other people at that time, when the iconic image of Keith made it onto our TV screens, it became quite clear to a young me that dance music was going to be better vector through which to find this kind of experience than a lot of what my friends were listening to at the time which had the look but not the affect.
What’s extra special about The Prodigy in that respect is that they were perennial: a gateway drug for generations of kids.