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Prong, live in Los Angeles

Live Review

Venue: Whisky A Go-Go

Support: Rivet

New York's 'industrial' legends, Prong, began their US tour, this week, with a home-town show on the Sunset Strip. They've moved to LA, in case you wondered how that was possible. Here's five other things that are also possible...

               

Smoking improves your hearing.

Admittedly it's not good for your lungs, but ears, to a music fan, are more important, and if you pop out for a smoke it will prevent further damage from LA's Rivet. True, their second song, Dirty Dog, or some such, is a scorcher, all sleaze and grind, like The Cramps with Rose Tattoo's muscle, but much of the rest is more like Gary Glitter and Disturbed trying to be System Of A Down. And possibly Judas Priest. They lose us when the frontman starts demanding, “Who's proud to be a mother-fucking American?” of a multicultural audience. The smoking area is surprisingly busy this evening.

Taking your drink in the pit is a bad idea.

As is wearing a belt for a skirt, madam, and heels that were clearly designed with being horizontal in mind. For the greater part, it's an older, more polite audience tonight, and the pit, when Prong open with back-to-back classics For Dear Life and Beg To Differ, is minimal. But that's not to say they're an unappreciative bunch, with wide grins all round, and they warm up throughout. True, the front row could probably have done without wearing a young lady's drink after she lands flat on her arse, midway through the aptly named Ruining Lives, but no one's complaining.

The Whisky A Go-Go is haunted.

Whenever you're watching Killing Joke, Ministry, or Prong, the ghost of bassist Paul Raven is never far away. There have been some phenomenal players in Prong over their 28 years, but it's Raven's presence that is felt the most, and his absence that is toughest to fill. Thankfully, bassist Jason Christopher, formerly of the much underrated punk band Black President, is an absolute beast on four strings, with a similar style of musical thuggery to Raven. Those are some gigantic shoes, but they seem to fit rather well.

Without Prong there would be no Static X.

Indeed, without Prong there would likely be no Fear Factory, and even bands like Korn and Nine Inch Nails would sound very different. Along with White Zombie, Prong could be credited for inventing the crunchy, melodic, guitar groove that a chap called Wayne Static employed so well, perfectly positioned to take over when Prong split for five year in '97. The 'industrial' tag was always something of a misnomer for a sound born out of the experimentation of punk and New York hardcore, that would now be called metal, but, by whatever name, it's unmistakably and irrefutably Prong.

Bands don't play enough new stuff.

All right, we get it, everyone wants to hear the 'hits', but it seems strange when bands claim their latest material to be their best and then all but ignore it live. Aside from the aforementioned title track Ruining Lives, such is the case with Prong's set-list tonight, most of it from albums that are 20 years old. It would be remiss, of course, to omit Whose Fist Is This Anyway? and Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck, arguably their best known tunes, but how will the new songs become classics if not through being played live? A fine set, nonetheless.

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