Prong are a band that really stood out to me from the first day I heard "Snap Your Fingers" in some sleazy West Midlands rock club back in the mid-90's. Back then they provided a different sound to everyone else; energy, enthusiasm, angst that no other band was showing in those days. As a young impressionable teenager I was hooked, I asked the DJ who the hell this was I was hearing and rushed out the next day to track down their albums.
Alas back then I didn't get the opportunity to catch them live, they disbanded shortly after my discovery of them and it wasn't until the reformation tour of Europe in 2003 that I eventually caught them live; and what a show that was.
Despite numerous line-up changes since then Tommy Victor has been taking the band from strength to strength. The latest string of albums are everything any Prong fan could ask for keeping with the bands traditional way of thinking. Next up off the product line is Zero Days, released this month, and off the back of it they are playing just a small handful of dates in the UK. Another opportunity to see Prong in the live arena I was surely not going to miss.
Rebellion in Manchester is tonight's venue, a wonderfully gritty hovel in central Manchester, the ideal stage
on which Prong can shine. Unfortunately, thanks to Friday night traffic on the M6, I arrive towards the end of opening act, Nomad. The local band booked to open proceedings produce a sound dripping in doom overtones, wonderfully dark and brutal, the only disappointment is that I wasn't there to catch their set in full.
Main support are Prong's touring partners for the whole tour, Spoil Engine. Recently signed to Nuclear Blast and with a new album out, these Dutch/Belgians are on a roll. Their fourth studio album, Stormsleeper, has just been released by the label and is being well received across the board. Very much in the same vein as Arch Enemy, thrash metal with a melodic twist and a female vocalist. Iris commands the stage from the outset, hanging from the low hanging roof beams in the venue and she growls her way through opening number Doomed to Die. A set full of traditional thrashy licks, syncronised headbanging, fist pumping goodness, but Iris stands out, a front woman who will take this band far.
By 9 o'clcock the venue is packed to the rafters, quite literally. This little corner of Manchester city centre is buzzing with anticipation. Prong take to the stage fashionably late, with the crowd chanting "Tommy, Tommy"; his fan club is in tonight and they are all wonderfully vocal. Opening with Disbelief, the staple opening song of the Prong set these days, Tommy jumping around the stage with the youth and vigor of a man half his age.
Making their way through “the classics” the pit in this small club goes mental. From Beg To Differ, through Rude Awakening, Lost & Found and Broken Peace the band proceed to tear this place apart. Mike Longworth, drafted in as the band’s latest bassist, puts on a sublime performance as does the rock steady Art Cruz on drums who has well and truly cemented his place on the stool over the past four years. His drumming style melds so well with Tommy’s song writing and live he creates that electric atmosphere that the front man can build off.
The mid set run through the big hits is an early surprise Whose Fist in all its majestic glory, that fast paced riff that runs the entirety of the song charging the audience before Snap Your Fingers. Tommy introduces the song that has help define the bands career and captured the imagination of so many over the decades. The front man basks in the glory thrusting his guitar into the crowd as he solos. Live music perfection.
In amongst the old tunes, the newer material is mixed in, and mixed in well. Introducing new song Divide & Conquer off the Zero Days album proves a masterful move and despite having never heard it prior the fans lap it up. Revenge, from 2012’s Carved into Stone has become a crowd favourite, Tommys distincting vocals in tune with the chanting fans.
Some bands have their off days, some bands look like they’d rather be anywhere else but the stage on which they stand in front of their fans. Nothing could be further from the truth with Prong, all three members loving every single minute of tonight’s two hour show their energy buoy’s the crowd who in term buoy them. A Prong show is never dull and tonight in Manchester, they blew the bloody doors off!