I cried this morning. And I had people from way back send me messages after years, people I didn’t know connect with me on social media, an epic phone call with an old friend.
And it’s because Keith Flint has died.
It was a long hot summer in 1995 when I went to my first music festival. An 18 year-old school leaver, and Head Girl, who bunked off the last few days at high school to head to Glastonbury.
Michael Eavis hosted the first dance act ever to headline at his Somerset farm: The Prodigy. Music for the Jilted Generation had come out the year before. Voodoo People, No Good (Start the Dance), Poison, Their Law (“Fuck ‘em n’ Their Law”).
100,000 people; mostly off their tits, going off their tits. Trusty Doc Martens and lots in the tank, bouncing and dancing and screaming and smiling. (And, for me, an epic warp out after the lads had sweat their last on the stage.) But I was there. And anything was possible.
It was punk for the 90s. We were young and wild and free. We marched against war and we got into student debt (but it didn’t matter because the Millennium Bug was going to wipe it all out, so ‘skin up’).
Many more crazy dance nights in Manchester, Leeds, maybe Sheffield, followed. And one crazy weekend in Blackpool seeing them at the Tower Ballroom I recall. The Prodigy always brought it and it brought us back every time: Back to that world of possibilities, that heart full of dreams, that boundless energy, that hope, that we could be free in a moment.
I didn’t go to what would turn out to be Keith’s last gig, here in Auckland last month. I’d got Fat Boy Slim, Happy Mondays and Leftfield all within a month and I’d seen them so many times. I should stick with my memories of them from back in England and see some of the ones that got away instead, I thought, just in case they didn’t quite have it any more. Best to stick with the memories I had. Except, they did. And I should have twisted, Firestarters. Friends went and, again, of course, they still had it, and it went off.
Just yesterday, I Shazamed Firestarter from the radio to send to a friend. I got in the car after a city ferry trip surrounded by a cluster of entitled pricks got me riled, and there he was, Keith, reminding me of who I was and why we still need to keep calling shit out and keeping it real.
The news that Keith has decided it all ends this way will prick tears in eyes across the world today: Mourning a music icon brings sadness for those who feel a part of their own past dies too.
Thanks, Keith. You bloody brave man.
Bang on Music for the Jilted Generation. And TURN. IT. UP.