‘Light Up The Sky’ turned 5!
Exactly 5 years ago, on September 26, 2018, the second single from the album No Tourists was released, titled Light Up The Sky. In this article commemorating the anniversary of its debut, we will delve into the complete history of the track and share a bunch of rare details!
For the first time, the final version of the track made an appearance on August 23, 2018. It accompanied a teaser announcing The Prodigy‘s November/December tour across the UK and Europe. While the video is currently hidden from the official channel, it’s still accessible, for instance, in the portfolio of the video’s creator. However, fans were already familiar with this tune over a year before its official release. On September 1, 2017, Liam posted a snippet of Light Up The Sky on his Instagram, featuring a live performance of one of the parts on his Roland Boutique TB-03 in his studio.
By the way, alongside Roland, Liam also utilized another renowned analog synth, Moog Sub Phatty in the track’s recording. It was this very synth that was put up for a charitable auction in October 2020 through My Black Dog, an initiative aiding people in dealing with mental health issues.
Continuing on the topic of musical production, it’s worth mentioning that for the main riff, Liam sampled the old-school tune Mám Rád Lidi by Jiří Schelinger.
Overall, the track “Light Up The Sky” was warmly received by the fans, as it clearly echoed the raw vibes of the iconic Their Law and Breathe.
Stack Magazine: The little springy instrument that creeps up and down over three notes in Light Up The Sky’s pre-chorus sounds like the same sound which plays the riff in your ’97 hit Breathe. Does it feel like a signature?
Liam Howlett: Yes – the album has a few references to our past, but I wanted to make sure it still felt fresh to my ears. The thing is, we have carved out a sound – a sound we created – and we don’t feel like we ever have to change direction or reinvent ourselves. This is the sound of The Prodigy… we want it to always feel fresh and alive, but not retro. We aren’t into retro…
It’s amusing that for some, the tracks from the No Tourists album even brought back memories of the Dirtchamber Sessions!
Dazed Magazine: Some tracks on the new album remind me of The Dirtchamber Sessions. The high-pitched vocal samples on your new song ‘Light Up the Sky’ are particularly reminiscent of mid-2000s hip hop. Are you still influenced by the same mixtape culture The Dirtchamber Sessions helped define?
Liam Howlett: That’s what I grew up on. That was the first introduction to music for me, so I don’t think that can ever leave me.
The chorus of ‘Light Up The Sky’ is performed by Liam Howlett’s long-time mate, known as Brother Culture (you can hear his voice in ‘Thunder’, ‘Nasty’, and ‘Rebel Radio’, as well as in the track ‘Resonate’ from the ‘No Tourists’ album).
Among other things, there’s another significant reference here — the legendary unreleased track Heatwave, from which Maxim’s lyrics found their way 13 years later, specifically the line “Ten thousand degrees”. In case you didn’t know, ‘Heatwave’ was originally intended to have vocals (you can read about it in our article), and Maxim’s vocals, heard in the 2006 recording, were actually written specifically for ‘Heatwave’ — but in the end, they found their perfect fit in ‘Light Up The Sky’.
The track’s live premiere took place shortly before the single came out: ‘Light Up The Sky’ was first played on September 2, 2018, in Ireland, at the Electric Picnic Festival.
Ultimately, the release took place on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Initially, it premiered at 17:00 BST on BBC Radio 6 Music during Steve Lamacq‘s show. Thirty minutes later, the single-track release was available on all platforms.
Almost a week later, on November 1, 2018, Liam shared more detailed insights about the creation of the track and the story behind how the lyrics from ‘Heatwave’ and Maxim’s passion rescued the song from becoming an unreleased tune, in a conversation with the same Steve Lamacq.
Liam Howlett for Steve Lamacq: Anything that’s not working straight away, just sweep it to the side. Really. Straight away and basically put it onto the shelf. And then sometimes what I’d do is kind of have 3 or 4 things on the go. I might have recorded a couple of verses with Keith and then put that over there, started another idea and then maybe another beat I’ve done will work with the Keith vocal. I think Light Up The Sky happened like that. I had the original, we had the guitar and my friend Brother Culture had done the vocal and that laid on the shelf for two months. I just knew it was great, but it just couldn’t put a beat on. I just got stuck with it. And I was like frustrated with it. And then all of a sudden Maxim came in and he just laid down a couple of things, and then I had that energy again to finish it off. And then we played it live and then that was it, you know?
Seven days later, on October 8, a remix by the British grime trio PENGSHUi appeared on streaming platforms. The mix sounds as if it’s missing live vocals. Almost a year later, on their official YouTube channel, PENGSHUi uploaded a live version where they realized the idea with grime verses and chorus.
Among the official remixes of ‘Light Up the Sky’, British DJ and music producer Paul Woolford also made his mark. Drawing inspiration from pirate radio stations and jungle/breakbeat hardcore, his work was released under the alias Special Request as a separate digital single on October 13, 2018.
‘Knights of the Turntable’ Review: The much-in-demand Special Request is back with another on-point cut, as he puts his production prowess into action, remixing The Prodigy‘s ‘Light Up The Sky’, lifted from their much-anticipated seventh studio album, ‘No Tourists’. As expected, this one’s a certified dancefloor weapon, with rolling breaks falling away to punchy 4/4 beat placement, tied into a dancehall-focused breakdown that will turn the clubs on their heads. Expect to hear this causing a right ruckus over the coming weeks!
Another official remix was rumored to have been requested from Dimension, but ultimately it was never released. It was definitely made from a remix pack, but was presented as a bootleg: the tune appeared in his sets from time to time. A few years later Dimention revised the remix and turned it into his own track titled ‘Offender’ — but a couple of samples from ‘Light Up The Sky’ are still there!
‘Goat Shed’ about Dimension’s ‘Offender’ tune: In a blueprint which started off as a remix for The Prodigy’s ‘Light up the Sky’, Dimension has accomplished a finished piece which provides us with the same aggressive and spirited approach.
The single’s design was handled by Liam Howlett’s longtime collaborator, Luke Insect, who has been working with the group since the days of Invaders Must Die. The stylish duo-chromatic lyric video was created by Eugene Riecansky and his Rockstar team, who have been collaborating with The Prodigy for over 20 years, since 2001!
‘Promonews.tv’ review: This take us onto a stylised American highway, where giant 18 wheelers pound the blacktop, and there’s some weird stuff going on, including some good old fashioned UFOs disgorging their load of aliens. 1950s Cold War paranoia is back…
Eugene Riecansky: A real pleasure to work again with The Prodigy… This time it’s an all-CGI music video. Thundering bus, glowing-eyed figures, windmills and a rave storm to beat all storms!
The animation video was created with Maxon Cinema 4D, rendered in Arnold Renderer Cel shader, and processed through plenty of Greyscalegorilla plugins and LUTs. Back in the day, the Rockstar team talked at length about the creation of this video in their open talks here and there, but unfortunately, these lectures never made it to the public.
As you may have noticed earlier, Rockstar created several versions of the video, two of which became accompaniments for the official video and for the PENGSHUi remix.
In general, ‘Light Up The Sky’ was crafted for live performances, and thus it quickly made its way into the live setlist. However, towards the end of 2018, the track began to be played in a slightly modified version, akin to a special Live Edit version, which Liam partially performed live!
From the moment it was introduced into the concert repertoire, ‘Light Up The Sky’ has remained a staple up to the present day. As of September 2023, the track has been featured in every performance of their latest tour, as well as in all gigs from the previous year when the band announced their return to live shows. It’s likely to remain a fixture in their setlists for quite some time.
People with epilepsy are cautioned AGAINST watching this video!
The audience’s love for the track was not limited to The Prodigy’s concerts alone; it extended far beyond. On August 15, 2019, at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, the Boiler Room collective opened their artists’ performance with a breathtaking three-minute laser show. The installation featured a staggering 320 lasers, setting a world record, as announced by the organizers on their Facebook page. The soundtrack for the show was, of course, ‘Light Up The Sky’. After the track concluded, a screen displayed the message ‘Rest In Peace’ along with a photo of Keith Flint in the background — thus, the organizers paid tribute to the memory of The Prodigy’s frontman, who passed away in early spring 2019…
Right now, our team is preparing a substantial post dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the album ‘No Tourists’, which is coming up in November of this year. Very soon, you can expect even more rare insights!
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