Kraftwerk: Godfathers of Techno

I went to see Kraftwerk this week at A-land’s beautiful Town Hall.  Not being a major fan of the group from Dusseldorf, known as the pioneers of electronic music – as in, I don’t recall anything specific that they ever released – my expectations were medium to low, but my mind and ears were open.  (FYI – the ears bit is tres important when gig-going, thank me later.)

Like any right minded soul does these days, I asked Uncy Google for some pre-gig lovin’ – I wanted to make sure I could drop a few totally irrelevant, but completely correct facts about the funkmeisters to my musically-trendii companions, but instead, I came across this amusing clip. 

British comedian Bill Bailey created a tribute band, Augenblick, who rather amusingly performs ‘Das Hokey Kokey’.

It’s always interesting to read the reviews from our mainstream news folk after attending the actual gig, especially when they are distinctly mixed.  Who to believe?  Stuff didn’t really care for it, considering the break to be the highlight.  NZ Herald says it was “all killer, no filler”.  Lucky I was there for myself, or it would all be so tricky.

Here is mostly what went through Lita’s head before, during and after the Kraftwerk gig on Wednesday:

  • If My Ride mentions “German efficiency” or “timely precision” and checks his watch one more time, I’m gonna demand I be dropped off here.
  • Jeez, Aotea Square looks weird without those dated sculptures and fountains.  And what have they done with all the homeless? 
  • What a varied bunch of gig-goers; punks, geeks, goths, rockers, suits, grandpas, teenagers, robots, Germans, librarians, moustaches, nzlebs (some model from some reality show), bike riders, grandmas, strange-hat-lovers.
  • Much debate amongst companions about the age of attendees and whether the gig was purposefully held during daylight hours (due to start promptly at 8pm – German precision failed on this occasion, and it kicked off nearly 30 minutes later) to allow us old folk an early night.
  • How entirely quaint is the olde worlde bell hung and rung from the top level of the foyer by the enthusiastic events staffer?  I correctly guessed she grew up on a farm. Outside Hamilton.  High five Lita.
  • Seriously cool and cheery crowd, with an average age of 43*.
  • Ok, hang on a sec, give me a sheet, a few reading lamps and time to create a cool PowerPoint presentation, I’m almost there.  I could play a Kraftwerk CD in the background, con 3 friends into standing equal distances apart from me, and I swear, you wouldn’t know the diff.
  • Oh, they aren’t going to just show shadows behind a sheet for the whole night, phew. I may try and stop rolling eyes at My Ride over the $90 ticket charge. Nein.
  • The crowd is lapping these guys up. Ja.
  • Kraftwerk are obsessed with moving vehicles, computers and machinery.  Totally obsessed.  Like, should-see-a-psychiatrist obsessed. Ja.
  • Oo, the one on the left just moved. I swear, I just saw him move, his leg kinda flicked out for 1/53258th of a second.  High action, my neck is sore from trying to peer over tall old people to watch four men attempt to not move.
  • Is that Michael Laws 2nd from the right?  WTF is the Mayor of Wanganui doing moonlighting in a German electronica band?  Not much.  Emailing?  Jeesh, now I can’t stop craning my poor neck to triple check that really is Laws.  It’s blimmin Michael Laws, I kid you not.

Kraftwerk

  • The fans with the robot heads made out of tin foil covered cardboard boxes look great, kapai effort – but man, how much would it suck to be stood right behind them? 
  • Wow.  Somehow I have heard samples, if not the originals, of every tune Kraftwerk is playing.  I keep expecting Madonna or Coldplay or Depeche Mode songs to kick in.  They really are the pioneers of this shiz.  Awes.
  • Ok, this heat is ridiculous.  Don’t let me ever attend a function at the Town Hall during Summer. 
  • Ok, now my feet are achy.  What is this floor made of?  How are the poor aging German gentlemen onstage handling standing in one spot for so long? Why are my feet so old and knackered?
  • Big mirror in the ladies loo, but bad lighting.
  • Ok, are they MSNing?  Guy on right is totally giving it away.  They are passing on viral joke emails, minimum.
  • How embarrassing would it be if the technology packed up now, and Error 404 appeared on the big background screen?  I think visual aids is guy on right’s role.  Uhoh.  Guy on right looks tres nervous.
  • Oo, robots.  Oo, movement.  Robot on right has limp arm, turns out to be the only neg thing My Ride has to say about the gig.
  • Guy on right is a lot younger than the rest, apparently he’s new, replacing one of the original members (Klaus Dinger) after his death earlier this year. 
  • Guy on right needs to work on the serious, static look – that was definitely a smiley smirk.
  • The bar at the Town Hall has 35% less humidity than inside the great hall.
  • Outside the Town Hall has 85% argy bargy factor, security is doing a strict ole job, although they are tremendously friendly to those of us who got there on time.  However, why can’t a paid-up ticketholder, albeit late, enter 20 minutes before the end?  Who gets hurt?
  • Oo, finale.  Crowd is rocking, literally swaying, even up in the stalls.
  • One of them talked. Guy on left. Ralf Hutter. Crowd is ecstatic.
  • Ok, crowd has gone back to being extremely Auckland and are stampeding at an alarming rate toward exits and the sparse and costly car parks.
  • On our way to the sparse and costly car park, I share an on-the-spot song creatively composed by my fair self using all the lyrics sung at Kraftwerk’s gig: Driving on ze autobahn, le tour de france le tour de france, operator of ze pocket calculator, stop radioactivity, le tour de france le tour de france, operator of ze pocket calculator, computer love, ze bicycle is dancing, driving on ze autobahn.  Musically-trendii companions did not appreciate, whatsoever.
  • Waved at the four geeks congregated in the sparse and costly car park (it was $5 till 6am, so there was no rush) after the gig, they were blogging on their trendy wendy blueberries, and we overheard them gushing how great the gig was “even if they are German”. 
  • Debate in the car about the continued bagging of Germans, even though WWII was ages ago and all the Germans we know are laidback, funny, cool folk.
  • My companions, staunch fans, concurred with the all killer, no filler review from the Herald.  And without realising I even knew Kraftwerk’s werk (see what I did there?), I have to agree, ’twas a strange but enjoyable gig, the tunes were slammin’ and the crowd was totally up for it.  And it was the bestest PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever witnessed at a gig.

* Yes.  I held a survey, then did some clever formula stuff to get the average.  I did so.

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16 responses to “Kraftwerk: Godfathers of Techno

  1. Florian Schneider

    I am Florian Schneider, the person you ID’d as the recently deceased “Klaus Dinger”. I am very much alive, and stayed in Germany to do work at our Kling Klang Studio. The mysterious Klaus Dinger does not exist; or if he does he has most certainly never played with my band. You also completely missed the point about our stage personae – we are, my young friend, SUPPOSED to be static and emotionless. It is called IRONY, a direct challenge to the moronic posturing of rock performers. Your idea of miming to a CD of our music and fooling your friends into thinking you are us is most strange. You seem to think that creating complex eight-minute electronic songs live, with equally live key-triggered visual effects through our laptops, is child’s play! An easy task! Let me assure you, it is not. You could not do it. I do not know you, but I know that you could not. It is amusing in a cold way to a German like myself – not only are you not four men, you would also without any doubt generate little more than amused contempt among your kameraden, and produce naught but tonnes of what the jungvolk of today call ‘epic fail’. Referring to our advanced years achieves nothing – it is like saying the sky is blue on cloudless day. It is true, but irrelevant. We may be “old”, but we filled your hall, and we fill the largest stadiums on the planet night after night. We are supposed to give up when we reach 40, hide in our bunkers, and not mention ze var until we expire, ja? And no-one cares about the war any longer, by the way – other than people like you who keep mentioning that people shouldn’t mention it.

    Stop radioactivity…und also faintly patronising concert reviewers.

  2. Kraftwerk’s “direct challenge” may have been ironic back in the 70s but today it is more pretentious than ironic. Time they Moved Forward.

    I still have a copy of Autobahn I bought in back in the 70s. It’s still good.

  3. Oh Florian – there’s sarcasm, there’s humour and there’s ignorance, but there is no patronising. You guys were good, and I said so. I never mentioned not mentioning the war, the geeks in the carpark did, I just mentioned that they mentioned it. Blimmin geeks.

    As for irony … I am firing my 3 friends, we shall never stand equidistant apart in sheet shadows. I promise I won’t do it alone either, for, as you rightly point out, I am not four men.

    Now to pen a letter to Mr Wikipedia, advising him of the updates to the Klaus Dinger section of your entry.

    Stop radioactivity.

  4. Awesome comments, good reply, and the kling klang studio is cracking me up.

  5. i had great time. its the show the people came for and expected. it exceeded my expectations..
    even under all that static and emotionless posturing i could see ralf getting a little groove wiggle on and nodding to his band mates with a smile after the first few tracks warmed up the crowd. as well as the great visuals there were a lot of modern reworks to the music mixed in and out of original tracks. it was a polished show and sounded great.

  6. No listen up, Klangs Klaus, or Florian Dingalinga whatever your name is, personally, I’d rather have a number!. Now that’s being insulting, see the differnce between that and what Lita wrote?.
    Maybe it’s a “German” thing. Again, that’s being insulting. And don’t get me started on the “Var”. As I could become really very insulting, if not a little “ironic” too!!. Be glad Lita even mentioned you. As you rightly say, you do not know if she is 4 men or not, but I know, having been at the birth!. But I tell you what, she has got “talent”!. Well… I’m “biased”. What can I say, she’s only my wee girl. And us mother’s get “protective”. She’ll be very pleased that you thought of her as being “young” though!. I’m only glad I wasn’t at the concert, seeing as I am very old, it sounds a tad “weird”, if not entertaining. I thought Lita was “bettering” herself and going to an Arts & Craft Show. Now that’s showing my ignorance!.

  7. Chillax it Mother, I wasn’t insulted, just rather amused and thrilled that I am being told off by one of the greatest influences on modern music for my silly review.

    Totally regretting bringing up the var/war and referencing the overheard conversation of the aforementioned geeks.

    Now lets all be friends, and stop radioactivity.

  8. “Chillax”? Is that a “German” word?. Or another so called “group”, “band”, I’ve not heard of luv?.

  9. Lil_miz_Cheeky

    i zee there eez a var going on here….

    Isn’t it a bit too late to stop radioactivity? Try telling that to the bush administration. lol

  10. Hey, who called my name? Yes, I am indeed dead, sorry, but I also actually did play with Kraftwerk, from 1970 to 1972. Florian, was zum Teufel are you telling this lady? But I am best known for my Krautrock band “Neu!”.
    Just sayin’. See you later, well, a lot later, ok?
    Love,
    Klaus

  11. what the heck indeed.. i didnt think wiki could be wrong. thanks for setting the record straight klaus. perhaps florians memory is a little foggy
    :-0

  12. Raising the dead and the rumoured dead isn’t as easy as it seems. Credit please.

  13. Well, don’t you think. But here’s a video from an early TV appearance (1971): http://www.livevideo.com/video/661A7130BAED4A3A8CC2AA8DD978B1A9/kraftwerk-r-ckstoss-gondolie.aspx

    The drummer, see him? That’s me. And Florian plays the Flute. Pls show him this the next time he stops by, ok?

    Love,
    Klaus

  14. Today I was talking to a chappie who drove from Wgtn to Aklnd with his 14 year old son to see this Kraftwerk concert. He really enjoyed it as did his son. The videos he showed me looked pretty good too, even with the all the irony leaking out. He took pains to point out that one of them was going to do something with his right hand soon. Sure enough about 2 minutes later a right hand moved and did something.

    He was also on the car park after the concert and professed to getting a great feeling of embarrassment at the “war” talk, specifically the comment “Right! Everybody up against ze vall!”.

  15. Strange that no 2008 New Zealand or Australia concert has been recorded,I couldn’t find any audio or video live recording instead of 2003 tour that was fully covered with audio boots.Anyone can help ?

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