The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a review of the influential German group Kraftwerk’s 100-minute show at the Myth nightclub. The performance was a warm-up for a headlining gig at Coachella next week.
It’s not clear if the show was terrible or if the review doesn’t like their music – but it seems that they hate Kraftwerk:
With all the flair of a power-point presentation at a mortgage-foreclosure seminar, the identically clad-in-black musicmakers stage demeanor was as emotionless and unanimated as the music itself. Co-founder Ralf Hutter occasionally sang — well, more like clinically chanted in English, German or French — simplistic lyrics that were really recitations of buzzwords. Of course, that is part of the social commentary of Kraftwerk, using few words and mechanical sounds nothing sounds as if its created by an actual musical instrument to lambaste radioactivity, espionage and societys dependence on machines
Kraftwerks music has influenced a wide range of stars, from David Bowie and Devo to Duran Duran and Daft Punk. On its last album, Coldplay sampled Kraftwerk. The German groups sounds presaged various musical movements, including synth-rock, new-wave, ambient and techno. Best known for the 1974 hit “Autobahn,” Kraftwerk has been less than prolific of late; the group has released only one studio album, 2003s “Tour de France Soundtracks,” in the past 25 years but has performed with greater regularity.
On Saturday, the tunes from “Tour de France” had more depth and musicality than the repetitious minimalism of the earlier material. “Elektro Kardiogramm” sounded like hyper-techno on quaaludes, and “Aero Dynamik” was modern sounding, with hip-hop scratching noises, a funky Prince-evoking bass line and a dance beat that even prompted a couple of the musicians to shake a leg.
The high point was “Radioactivity,” an ominous, active number with intense rhythms gurgling behind ping-ponging sounds. It was the only piece that built in intensity like a good rock song does. “Robots” was fun, delivered by four robots that, frankly, were more animated than the musicians they depicted. The nights lone disappointment was the classic “Autobahn”; the computerized dirge droned on in second gear for too many miles. Maybe thats why Kraftwerk needs a tune-up before roaring into the Coachella festival.
If you’ve seen Kraftwerk live recently, let me know what your thoughts are. Are they as boring as a Powerpoint demo, or does the Minneapolis reviewer just not “get” Kraftwerk’s aesthetic.