Get Lucky? Maybe…

Now he’s in some stratospheric orbit occupied by a select few, it seems strange to look back on a ticket that shows Pharrell and his merry men from N.E.R.D rocking up at the Academy.

This was a weird one all round to be fair.You got the sense that it was really only fulfilling some promotional UK duties, especially as it lasted just over an hour and only about threequarters of the time involved any actual songs.

I’m not even sure now that Chad Hugo was there on the night.

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I’d gone along with two friends, Matt and Dave, who I also went to see a Public Enemy show with that summer – I suspect some kind of anniversary tour.

I would have said that was immaterial to this gig, but what both acts proved was that what are essentially studio productions of rap and r&b can sound spectacularly good live when accompanied by a full band.

When N.E.R.D kicked in with Rock Star, Lapdance, Everybody Nose and She Wants to Move, their greatness was unquestionable, and a wildly excited audience needed little encouragement to join a late stage invasion.

It was over all too quickly, unfortunately, and you were left with a curious mix of elation and deflation.Another half an hour and a bit less  filler call and response would have elevated this show no end.

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Yes, the rhythms, the rebels

Many years ago I was at a festival when the Prodigy were appearing in one of the tents late at night.

I took one look inside and thought `not for me’! It was absolute mayhem and as a non-participant in rave culture, something I was a bit bewildered by.

Later, at the Phoenix Festival, they were on the main stage as the sun was going down after a blisteringly hot day. This time I got involved and it was one of the most intense concert experiences I’ve ever had.

I’ve seen them a few times since and, apart from the tour to support Fat of the Land, they have never been quite as good.

Whether their early fire was slowly diminishing I don’t know, but their attempts to recapture the edge that took them away from their peers seemed to be an imitation of the great days.

But seeing them at Manchester Central on Friday was something of a revelation.

This was a bang on form Prodigy with a belter of a set in which even Firestarter was a weaker link rather than a highlight.

Songs from the new album were seamlessly slotted in alongside career favourites like Voodoo People and No Good in an hour and a half of dance/rock fun.

Sound was perfect and the light show mesmerising – all adding up to probably my gig of the year so far.

Support on the night came from Public Enemy who remain my favourite rap act.

When they roll out Fight the Power, Bring the Noise, 911 is a Joke, and Don’t Believe the Hype you’re hearing tracks that made hip-hop great.

Chuck D rolls, prowls, jumps and delivers like a prizefighter who knows he’s still got one great fight left in him and, of course Flavor Flav is the perfect sidekick who’ll never let us forget what time it is.