Kraftwerk, MOMA, New York
Wednesday 18 April 2012
Day 7 of the Kraftwerk retrospective at MOMA in New York saw the band play The Mix, their greatest hits album of sorts.
When it debuted in 1991 the album was oft criticised for rendering some of their classic catalogue less enjoyable by adding melodic components whilst forgoing some of the more harsh electronic sounds that made them the granddaddies of techno music. Yet the flip side is that it’s the perfect Kraftwerk album to see live, gigabytes of hit tunes downloading one after the other. The sounds used to revamp the songs on The Mix made it the album that most sounded like hearing the band play life.
The unique retrospective series of concerts at MOMA positions the Dusseldorf band as a work of modern art. Each night a different one of eight albums has been played in chronological order. An amazing feat for a foursome who spend concerts standing behind a desk that looks like it’s been liberated from a school classroom, while pre-recorded cinematic images and animation provide the visual stimulation on a screen behind them. The new innovation is to conduct the whole show in 3D.
Tickets to the concert that took place in the museum’s Marron Atrium are like gold dust, a hilarious Downfall mash-up that has been doing the rounds on Youtube gave voice to the dissatisfaction felt by many at the difficulty of getting hands onto one of the 450 pairs of tickets available each night. A copycat concert ‘Krautwerk’ featuring a range of artists including Kim Gordon played an alternative tribute concert in Brooklyn and was just as hard to get tickets for. The buzz from the opening week about the 3D visuals has been almost entirely positive despite the flimsy branded cardboard 3D glasses that the audience is obliged to wear. With such a level of anticipation it’s surprising that the show just about lives up to the stratospheric expectation.
The band entered the stage to the sound of the album’s opening song ‘Robots’. The wow factor comes fast when an animated robot literally seems to pop out of the screen and envelopes Ralf Hutter, the only original member of the band still in the band. Whilst the 3D is very now, the actual figures in the animation hark back to the birth of computer modelling and look like they were created in the 80s, especially the linear lines of the trains that serve to supplement Trans Europe Express.
The songs were mainly played in album order, with a few ‘best of’ tracks such as Tour de France sneaking in from time to time, mostly in the back stretch of the concert.
Yet the most impressive element of the concert may just be the framing of the band on stage. The musicians look like works of art standing together in jumpsuits on stage lost in a present where the previously imagined sounds and visions of the future already look like debris from the past. Yet with a new album in the offing and an almost timeless sound, it’s still probably too early to put Kraftwerk in the museum, no matter how great the experience.
Trans Europe Express
Metal on Metal?
Tour De France 1983
Tour De France
Boing boom Tschack
Musique Non Stop
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Jurassic World trailer already facing criticism from palaeontologists
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy after appearing in mock TV wedding scene