Reviewed on Monday May 27
When I heard that Kraftwerk were performing their back catalogue in order at London’s Tate Modern in February this year, I kicked myself for not being in the UK. It’s a sign, then, of how far Sydney’s ascended the cultural ladder that we got the full set of shows only two months later.
With the promise of eight shows in four days comprising scenic trips through their best albums, followed by a greatest hits set and augmented by a 3D visual show, excitement levels were high. And they didn’t disappoint – the show was immersive, hypnotic and very impressive, a trip inside Ralf Hütter’s obsession with the intersection between man and machine.
2003’s Tour De France is perhaps the most danceable of Kraftwerk’s albums, certainly one of the more accessible – a tribute to that epic annual race of bicycle and physical mechanics. Archive footage of La Tour accompanied the album’s signature ‘Tour De France’ theme and tracks like ‘La Forme’, ‘Elektro Kardiogramm’, ‘Vitamin’ and ‘Aerodynamik’.
When the 3D visuals came into play they were truly spectacular, such as in ‘Vitamin’, where a cascade of pills and effervescent bubbles came floating out the screen right up to your nose. Between the impressive visuals, though, there was ample time to watch the four grey-haired men on stage rocking out at their neon light synth plinths, dressed in neon-green-lined bodysuits and gently head-nodding, as Hütter looked up every now and then to deliver a pitch perfect line vocal line.
After a quick spin through Tour De France we took a trip through the decades, with classics like ‘Autobahn’, ‘Trans-Europe Express’, ‘Computer Love’ and ‘Radioactivity’. Incredibly, even though they’ve been recording for almost four decades now (Autobahn was released in 1974) everything Kraftwerk has ever done still sounds fresh and current. Is it because they were so far ahead of their time? Or because all electronic music, from the 80s to present day, owes them such a huge debt? I prefer to think it’s because their work is timeless – brilliant, simple riffs, repeated hypnotically with restrained elegance.
Long live the Robots!
BY NICK JARVIS