Kraftwerk’s Live Rig

This clip is an unofficial video, via Willy Billiams, that captures a Kraftwerk, performing Trans Europe Express in Amsterdam on Jan 22nd, 2015.

What’s interesting about this clip is the perspective. 

Kraftwerk’s stage show presents the band as almost completely motionless amid an enveloping multimedia presentation. This puts the focus on the music and visuals, rather than the band itself.

This is a fan video, so it suffers from poor quality sound and ‘shaky-cam’. From this perspective, though, you get a view of Kraftwerk’s rigs and also a much better idea of what the group is doing on stage.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


88 thoughts on “Kraftwerk’s Live Rig

    1. Don’t think is lame. They upgraded to current times electronic music production & performance, using mainly the “box”, ni machine, q neo controller etc. It is what it is. It’s just easier this way that back in the day performing with the minimog, the arp 2600 & the dyi rhythm machine. Still, these guys are in their 60’s. No different than seeing PA Pot or Disclosure live. Well maybe more energy on the former.

  1. ofcourse, i get it ,..they dont want to drag tons of synhs and stuff, but if i have to choose between Kraftwerk or for example Jean Michel Jarre with his current show (lots of Eminents and stuff)… sorry for the Germans but i really prefer real synths as visuals then the.. well.. not that impressive visuals of this Kraftwerk show.

  2. ohhh! YouTube is SO great: now we can see the (average) KRAFTWERK-Setup!
    Surprise: they`re really switching knobs or moving sliders.
    WTF***… our Equipment at home is MUCH better and still we didn`t invent Techno…
    And we are wayyyy uncooler nonetheless, by the way.
    They HAVE to be cheating/checking emails at their Shows, these funny german phonies.

  3. Is it me or are they doing absolutely nothing ?
    One guy seems to noodle on the keyboard to a different song .
    Seems like they just played a cd and gave a visual show .

  4. So that’s who bought all the Nekos. Besides Timbaline. Sounds pretty good as always, but seriously sounds a lot like the Airwolf TV show theme in places, doesn’t it? The only real problem I’ve ever had with this series of tour is that, unless you are as athletic as Mark Spitz, you shouldn’t be going around in public wearing a leotard, particularly one with contour grid lines. You can’t be cybernetic wearing a nice suit?

      1. You know, that’s exactly the same argument that a bunch of gamers were throwing at me in U2b when I criticized one of them for boasting that he had only spent $900 playing Clash of Clans while there were others who had spent on the order of $12,000, to which I concurred that human beings were free to be as stupid as they like, it’s part of their charm.

      2. I basically like Kraftwerk too, but they’re very minimalist and kling-klang, by design. Its sounds uppity and abstract, but I like music that has more to SAY. I readily acknowledge their historical impact and the sheer fun of their music, but for minimalism, I’m more of a Roedelius type. His music is very simple, but highly descriptive melodically. HE has *plenty* to say musically.

        Also, like it or not, people have a different creative fire at 20 than at 70, so you can stand “Ralf & Florian” next to Cluster and have it hold up very well. If you want to be wild over vintage synths, read up on what the godfathers did with synths we buy as software now. It can add to your perspective. “Trans-Europe Express” is basically just trance, but if you dig a little deeper into their back catalog and those of their contemporaries, you find some real diamonds.

    1. Maybe Airwolf theme music was inspired by Kraftwerk? Kraftwerk predates so many now known and loved synth groups. And they never said they are good musicians with an impressive keyboard and guitar solo. This is something different from Jordan Rudess and other keyboard wizards. Of course it’s programmed music. That’s tge main theme of their music, technology and computers and their influence on our life. Man becoming part of the machine!

  5. As has previously been stated by many, their shows are as much art installation as a live gig. The video clearly shows there’s plenty going on. All the hip thrusting and guitar 80s nonsense? Go see Kiss live.
    Remember before slagging kraftwerk off that their fan base is huge and we owe them a debt of gratitude beyond measure in much the same way we do Moroder or Numan and their contribution to music cannot be overstated. I saw them in 09 in Manchester and I can tell you this….. Nothing can come close to hearing these masterpieces live.
    Long may they have appreciation and live audience they deserve.

  6. What on Earth were any of you naysayers moaning here actually thinking they were doing on stage? Playing an out-of-tune Minimoog and some home-soldered, aluminium foil covered pads, triggering a Roland groove box, like they did back in the early 1970’s? Seriously, get over it.

    Kraftwerk are in fact much more than a bunch of guys “playing” synths on stage. The whole thing is a piece of art in its entirety, and it does not matter at all if they’d “play” any instruments on stage or not or if they’d just put some dummies on stage (which they actually do as part of their current show, anyway). I’m afraid, none of you actually got the point with what they are doing.

  7. And they charge big bucks for their “live” shows!!!!!

    This isn’t Kraftwerk. This is Hutter making money on Kraftwerk’s laurels. He’s the only original member. The other three guys are there to make it look like a quartet, like the Kraftwerk of ole.

    1. You’re missing the point. It is not about the “live” show. It is about the entire show, audio and visual. They are not a rock band. And just because the Rolling Stones are still (almost) the same band as they were 50 years ago – does every “band” have to be like that?

  8. Kraftwerk 3D at moogfest was one of the most entertaining live electronic performances I have ever seen. Watching this video on your phone or computer or wherever hardly gives you perspective on what it feels like in person.

  9. We will continue killing that second bag of Cheetos and right snarky comments about silly musicians, and they will continue sell their concerts in an hour around the world and be godfathers of electronic music. I think we figured it out and they didn’t. Clearly if they would’ve hear what we do or the music that we make they would be amazed how cool we are stop doing this nonsense.

  10. How many of you complaining here were born in 1977, when Kraftwerk have released Trans Europa Express – a song and an album that has until now inspired musicians of almost any genre, and not least informed electronic music all over the place for almost 40 years now? How many of you have written one single piece of music that comes even close to the work of Kraftwerk (amongst which not everything is genius, obviously, but their contribution to modern music is undoubtedly significant).

  11. It’s great to see what they’re really doing, but it gets boring fast, I can see why they hide the gear and go for big screen visuals, it creates an enigma which matches their reputation.

    So the main guy on the left seemed to have his keys changing preset automatically, I couldn’t see him switching between them?

    It looks like the work is divided by 1. Lead 2. Sequences 3. Drums 4. Visuals

  12. Amazing that after 40+ years there are still so many people on a synth forum (of all places) who just don’t get Kraftwerk. I can only assume they’re mostly teenagers with short attention spans.

    1. I don’t understand this trolling here either!
      After all, Kraftwerk is an art-project, not a rockband per se! You can’t compare these!
      The band was heavily in touch with the art scene back in the days and also, as turning into robots, they intended to show that the music is the medium and not the 4 members.DaftPunk are doing quite the same, and others for sure. It’s a multimedia show! You should really have a go there (open minded)!
      Don’t be so intrigued by the little glimpse, go and see for the big picture!
      The music is what matters, folks!!
      And my god, KW mattered much!

  13. To the low-life scum who think this is a cop out, let me see you have a 40+ year career, migrate your sound exactly from one generations technology to the next 4 times or more and still be able to present YOUR art in the way it was meant to be heard and seen. When you can do that, then you have earned the right to criticize how they perform. Until then, piss off and stand in awe in what you will never be able to do, because you are too busy hating and not appreciating hard work and dedication when you see it.

  14. It’s really very simple. I’m going to divide the commenters into two groups.

    For people who want a wankfest: Jordan Rudess
    For people who want to have fun: Kraftwerk

  15. You people who are trying to give these guys credit as Kraftwerk crack me up. “We owe them a debt of gratitude..” and “godfathers of rock” and “where were you in 1977” etc.

    If this was Ralf, Florian, Karl, and Wolfgang onstage doing this, I would agree with you. That’s the Kraftwerk that is due the accolades for their groundbreaking work.

    Please explain to us how this is Kraftwerk. These is like Robert Plant faking it with three unknowns and calling the act Led Zeppelin.

  16. KW were revolutionary artists and should be shown respect for the contributions they have made to electronic music. That said, they are no longer on the cutting edge of anything (maybe death… ok that was in bad taste)

    . Younger guys probably wont “get it” because the music and technology and access to both are no longer as mysterious. Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin, Nine Inch Nails, Venetian Snares, Skrillex even… all kind of made Kraftwerk look goofy and simple.

    I don’t think most young guys are even that curious as to what Kraftwerk does on stage nowadays… it’s not very complicated, and anyone with access to reason or ableton can imitate it well with little musical training.

    So, I respect the contributions they made… but lets be real about it… the only people who care about this stuff lived through it. Kraftwerk aren’t doing anything technologically novel any more, and the music doesn’t accurately reflect the man-machine relationship anymore. It’s like watching early black and white sci-fi movies with tin foil everywhere and people wearing ridiculous outfits (laughable).

  17. Some of the comment on these post makes me thing that many teenagers only enjoy the process of destroy and burn the origins of everything good in these world.

    How is possible that some people on these post don’t understand what Kraftwerk means to electronic music history and why they perform in these way?

  18. please…this is music, do you like music? Yeah? So stop complain about gear and setup…you can make good music with two freeware plugins and stick up the ass all the expensive crappy stupid modular shit for rich bored guys who spend 10k bucks to make horrible arpeggios who’s nobody wanna listen to…enjoy music, spend money in gifts for your girlfriend and stop making horrible arpeggios.

  19. First, none of y’all would write a set like that. Two, you wouldn’t get it together to play it. Three, you wouldn’t actually play the melodic parts. Check yo self before you wreck yo self.

  20. Kraftwerk paved the way for almost any and all electronic music made today. They are the Beatles of the techno-culture. They can do whatever the hell they damn well please on stage. I’d pay $150 just so I could say I was there. Anyone who’s talking smack, you need to be educated, promptly.

  21. Do you blame an orchestra conductor that he’s not playing an instrument, just waving hands like a maniac in front of a music sheet?


    Same situation here. They are conducting an orchestra of machines.

  22. Surprising reading the comments here, the hate on Kraftwerk for daring to use a computer in a live setup – get over yourselves.

  23. I don’t know which is the funnier internet phenomenon on display here: the kiddies who see a maschine or ipad and then idiotically say “boring”, or “I could do better” due to pure pattern recognition of “pressing pads”, or the fogeys that declare “They are the godfathers, hence, exempt from criticism!”. I think any performance can withstand fair critique.

    I had the unique opportunity to see Kraftwerk 3D on three successive evenings, at Moogfest 2014. With that luck, I was able to enjoy some numbers (see what I did there 🙂 out in front to experience the full 3D thing, but mostly hung out at the high wings, looking down from the sides to see what was actually being performed. Three nights in a row. In sum: I saw a LOT more live playing (from Ralf) than I expected. The fellow beside Ralf handled many basslines by hand, again, more than one might have expected.

    There is a continuum of music performance. Call one end A, where one is improvising a cadenza on clarinet, or a good guitar solo, for example. The performer is 100% responsible for every aspect of the music, not just producing a note for a duration, but also all the continuous aspects of the tone itself over time. That’s one end of the spectrum, a direct 1-1 mapping from continuous action into sound. Bach improvising live on a violin would be the exemplar. Every change in sound is the direct result of a performance action, from the macro note level to the micro tone level.

    Call the other end B, where one makes a small non-continuous action that results in 100% of the sound, the prime example being to press play on a tape player. That’s a 1-to-many mapping. One action results in many outputs. Most people would say this is not very musical, or at least, not a very interesting performance. Possibly it’s an action at the end of a great compositional process, but it is the edge of what one could consider a “performance”.

    Now, clearly the heart and soul of live concerts, live rock’n’roll, etc. is closer to the A end of that spectrum. The performer is responsible, active, effective, can make changes as a result of feedback, and the possibility of failure exists. It’s fun to do, and it’s fun to experience as an audience.

    The minimally acceptable performance of electronic music is close to B, where a performer is really stepping through a sequence of selections, with little risk of (musical) catastrophe. A fixed DJ set for example. Sure the power might fail, or Live might crash, but I’m speaking of musical failure. Selecting this clip to play after that clip is not really so risky as playing a solo. (Kiddies, try both before disagreeing with that statement).

    I’ve seen a good deal of electronic music performed live, and generally have more fun the further the performer goes away from B. I’m not knocking Ableton Live one bit (I dig it greatly). You can play Ableton in a style anywhere from B to nearly A, in fact.

    Now with that all said, I can assure you from direct evidence of my own eyes and dancing feet, that KW, at least Ralf with the keys, is a LOT closer to A, the live hanging-it-out-on-edge-every-night, than B, a fixed DJ set. A surprising amount was played live. I’d go so far as to say a risky amount was played live! I’m pretty sure that I commented to that effect on Synthtopia, the same week as Moogfest last year, as it was striking to me.

  24. One last addendum: looking like a bunch of disengaged robots checking facebook is KW’s schtick! They invented that! Don’t take it so seriously. So it was really fun and refreshing to see Ralf tickling the ivories as much as he really does. If it really were a sham, I don’t think Ralf would be performing so often, now, would he? It’s not like he’s doing it to pay the rent (although I might believe part of the tough live schedule is new composition avoidance thing, and it certainly must be true that the 3D show has a high upfront cost to recoup).

  25. Well all i can add to this debate is that ive been listening to kw since jan.72..saw them live for the first time in 75..havent got a clue about those consoles..but am still loving them live now as much as ever..

  26. Kraftwerk is the bomb! Been listening to these guys since the early 80s. Many early hip hop rap songs used their beats. The whole concept is magnificent.

  27. seeing Kraftwerk live is an honor. If you have had this honor of seeing/hearing this show you would not be so critical. This is live art. Its a genuine experience. ive never heard a gig sound so good In my 32 years of life. And all of you criticizing because ralf is the only original member, keep in mind a couple of those guy have been involved with the group for about 20 years.. is that not long enough to be officially part of the band? For fucks sake, cant believe so much hate for kraftwerk on synthtopia

  28. here’s what’s been missed. these guys were our phucking mentors. We wouldn’t have had Techno City and certainly Detroit techno wouldn’t have been the same without Kraftwerk. That’s why this is so disappointing. Sure they are seminal, but now increasingly irrelevant?

  29. Ralf Hutter is the soul of Kraftwerk.

    Anyone that’s seen their current live show knows that Hutter has refined what they do to the pure essence of what Kraftwerk is. It’s an amazing show, retro and futuristic at the same time. Kraftwerk live looks and sounds fantastic.

    Three members of the current Kraftwerk lineup have been playing together for nearly 25 years – so, it’s not like Hutter dumped everybody and hired new people for the latest tour!

    I’d highly recommend seeing them, if they perform anywhere close to you. It’s obviously not a rock and roll show, with grimaces and solos. it’s a very refined multimedia show, one of the best I’ve ever seen!

  30. of course no one talks about the prices for this concert which were 150euros a pop so shameful for such a “fake performance” Native Instruments and Apple are not musicians…

  31. If Florian Schneider was still in the band, then I might be able to consider what they’re doing to be Kraftwerk. That would sort of be like Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend going on tour and calling it the Who. However, with only Ralf Hutter and three other guys periodically noodling along with pre-recorded tracks, I don’t consider this act to be the “godfathers” “mentors” “legends” etc.

  32. cheesus what a troll fest this comment thread is….
    is there a prize for the most inane comment?
    it would be a tough call, so many contenders!

  33. All in all, I thought that it is pretty cool that one of the most influential electronic bands are using cheap MIDI controllers and iPads to run their entire show. It not only takes balls to rely on this stuff, but also underlines their whole predicted future in Computer World where they used cheap calculators and ‘toys’ to create music. I saw them live and the romantic futurism of the music blended perfectly with those cool 3D graphics.

  34. honestly the only tune i can listen to from kraftwerk is tour de france the rest i dont like. well they were one the first who came up with computer music they are part of history nothing more nothing less the music is oldies dont expect edm from this pioneers. respect for them, but not impressed.

    1. ok, maybe autobahn is ok as well,.. in 70s technology edge, 80s still kinda new, 90s sounds funny, 2015 obsolete pre-history. no disrespect here, just saying… even kids can do better music nowadays.

  35. ‘don’t expect edm’? that is exactly what it is! electronic dance music!

    people did used to dance to kraftwerk.and probably still do.

    ‘edm’ has to be the worst music genre name made up in history of music.

    any dance music that is made electronically is electronic dance music.

    how it became used to describe generic rehashes of 90’s trance is beyond me!

  36. In one word: EPIC!

    The best electronic music Band on this Planet.

    Listen to Africa Bambaataa’s ” Planet Rock” This Song starts a new Era in Electro Hip Hop, influenced by Kraftwerk!

    1. What personal attack? You keep comments like “phucking mentor” and worse and yet delete my comment that was not a personal attack directed at anyone?

  37. What a terrible de-mystification!!!!!!! Only factory-consumers stuff on the desks. In my mind it was so much more advanced . Someone just told me: “Santa Claus doesn’t exist”, hahahah

    But it proves you can do great stuff with a 200$ budget!

    1. Don’t worry, their equipment may initially appear unimpressive, but in fact their controllers are connected directly to a network of electrodes, attached with suction cups to an actual unicorn, suspended in a tank of jelly backstage.

  38. You don’t have to like Kraftwerk. But they have a place in the history of music that NONE of today’s electronic music artists will ever have. That is what is important.

  39. Ok, enough ranting and more intellect. Besides, it’s hard enough to critique a full concert performance based on a short shaky video. Let’s talk gear instead. I find it interesting that they’ve moved away from the open laptop screens and are using touch screens that would normally be out of site from an audience.

    I think what many people fail to realize is that prior to Kraftwerk, there were and still are styles of electronic music that rely only on playback and live spatial manipulation of sound. Music Concrète, Acousmatic, Electroniche Musik come to mind here. It’s still a tradition in many places and Kraftwerk seem to fall into a tradition as well. You don’t go to an Acousmatic tape show to expect performative action on a stage. Kraftwerk obviously upped their game with visual tech in their setup. Let’s talk about that…

    1. Agreed.

      It’s absurd that any electronic musician would expect Kraftwerk to jump around on stage or to do Minimoog solos.

      The entire point of the band is to create a modern German folk music, and to leave behind the histrionics of British and US rock. And they’ve been wildly successful at this.

      I have yet to meet anyone that’s attended one of their shows that did not think it was very impressive. I was lucky to see them at Moogfest and it was one of the best shows that i’ve been to.

  40. It’s like everyone commenting is either:

    a. saying Kraftwerk is tha bomb! I’d like to see you be as successful! They are the originators of this ish! Pay homage!

    b. saying This sucks. it’s old and boring and no one cares. They are ancient, so is the music, and the gear doesn’t matter. Their concept is played out and irrelevant nowadays!

    Both are correct I guess.

    I respect what KW has done, but feel no need to pay homage. There is an old saying that if you see the Buddha, you should kill him. With all due respect, Kraftwerk used to, but no longer is pushing anything forward. I’d compare seeing them live to opening a dusty time capsule.

    Music tech and electronic music is saturated now, and Kraftwerk probably wouldn’t stand a chance if they released their classic works in the present. It’s too competitive, and there are too many other (much more) accomplished musicians with a greater understanding of music technology… many of them are teenagers in their bedroom studios who will never “make it.”

    Where KW started with music tech in it’s infancy, kids these days are born into it and it is only natural that KW’s music is now seen as simple and repetitive. No wonder KW is now using the same stuff on stage as these kids.

  41. I don’t really think it’s fair to compare KW’s style of music to newer styles. It’s like comparing John Coltrane to Kanye. I’m not putting things into High Art vs Low Art either. When discussing music, it comes down to the music, not always the popular image. There is little discussion as to what Kraftwerk are doing musically here. Also it would be interesting to hear what others might know about their earlier performances and how this differs. An objective view and discussion on KW’s own musicality rather than a subjective rambling and comparison outside the scope of their style. Yes they aren’t Deadmau5 or FlyLo, but wouldn’t it be useful to compare them to themselves throughout time?

    They built their own instruments before many electronic instruments existed. I’m curious as to the transition away from acoustic instruments and processing that Florian once used. Should they return to their roots or does their exploration of a visual aesthetic take their work to a different place? Questions worth asking…

    1. I like that they are able to recreate these sounds with relatively current gear. It may not have quite the same affect as the analog equipment it was created on but most artists using this gear are simply following formulas that are completely abandoned in this process. This is much more creative than the typical EDM that it is being compared to, IMHO.

      1. I believe, back 30-40 years ago, they would have done things exactly as they do them today, if the technology had been there.

        Regarding their current setup: There are various sites and forums on the all-knowing internet, where past and current gear is being discussed and “revealed”. Despite using a bog-standard DAW as backbone (Cubase) for their live shows already for years now, they’ve got quite a few controllers etc. that they have custom tailor made to specific needs and purposes. Yes, they play Maschine, a couple of iPads with various apps, a Doepfer ribbon controller, a rather old M-Audio Oxygen keyboard, and not least a Creamware Minimax MiniMoog clone, but around that are a few special bits and pieces.

        Oh, and their current live shows (I have seen them here in Copenhagen a few weeks ago) prove two things:
        1. It doesn’t matter what gear you use to write, produce, play and perform your music. As long as you have a good song and a good idea for how to present it.
        2. They obviously still enjoy playing those songs – regardless of only Ralf Hütter being left of the “original” line-up – and that joy is understood and received by the audience.

        1. I completely agree with you. Kraftwerk is a legendary band … I respect them … I love their music … strange … unusual … different …

  42. Kraftwerk is the most influential band in modern times. Just check out Stricktly Kev’s Kraftwerk Kover Kollektion, I believe there is around 7 of the 1-2 hour mixes of Samples and covers of Kraftwerk. From metal to new wave to hip hop to choirs and string quartets and seeing them live at Sonar 2013 was a life changing event!

    The gear looks amazing, I am sure they are using their own instruments and tools, they always have from analog hardware to now touch interfaces and LIVE 3D video!

    Never forget history as your “edm” performers probably sampled some of their best melodies from Kraftwerk or their midi-drum sounds…

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