times they are a-changin", even for Kraftwerk. During the previous
belgian concert these German pioneers of electronic music placed their Kling
Klang studio on stage, so that it looked like the control room of a spaceship.
Nowadays the four members are satisfied with a laptop. But the music hasn't
changed. Or no, the music has, the song titles didn't, as appeared last
Monday in Vooruit in Ghent.
its first belgian concert in nine years the band started a tour of hardly
five concerts there. The men from Kraftwerk were the last years - attention,
an understatement follows - rather low profile: they toured little and their
youngest cd "The Mix" is more than ten years old. And this contained
a reworking of their old successes, the for the time being last record with
new songs dates already from 1986. Two years ago Kraftwerk indeed wrote
'Expo 2000' for the world expo in Hamburg and this song sounded through
the loudspeakers when the curtain wasn't raised yet. On the end of evening
the curtain would close again before the last song (Boing Boom Tschak) was
finished. In between the band presented over one hour and a half their most
may then hardly be writing new songs, they still keep rethinking the old
ones. This way the sublime 'The robots' offered a view on what electronic
music has to offer today. TTour de France" started with a melancholic
melody, but the rhythms and breakbeats soon took control. In the past the
band from Düsseldorf has been accused of being too cool and too unapproachable.
But those who were at Vooruit will not be able to defend this thesis. Kraftwerk
was sometimes extremely melancholic ("The Model", "Autobahn",
"Trans Europe Express"), instructive and critical ("Sellafield
2", "Radioactivity") but above all funny, although in a more
or less absurd way.
humour lies in the way the gentlemen come onto and leave the stage, how
they seem to ignore the audience completely (and sometimes completely the
other way round: when somebody screamed too loud for its favourite song,
one of the "workers" shined its pocket-torch on the audacious
fan), but most of all in the music. How the songs sometimes switch from
one atmosphere to another, how all sorts of sounds suddenly appear and again
disappear: it is of an - by the way, perfectly bearable - lightness.
Kraftwerk concert is not complete without visuals. That video projection
was almost as fascinating as the music and extremely divers: one moment
Bauhaus-like forms or words and slogans are dancing over the three video
screens, another moment you see journal images and even cartoonesque clouds
were present. But "Pocket Calculator" was by far the most beautiful
to look at because there was a direct interaction between image and sound.
perfect gig? No, not as good as that. Ralf Hütter was, certainly during
the first half of the set, vocally rather uncertain (happily he didn't have
to sing much) and sometimes he forgot to open his microphone. A few songs
were too long, but that did not alter the fact that we really returned very
satisfied to "Ohm Sweet Ohm".
published at flemish newspaper "De Morgen" on 25 September 2002)
review in belgian by Christophe Verbiest