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Music: Kraftwerk 3D Live in Singapore

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Review of: Kraftwerk 3D

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On April 25, 2013
Last modified:April 26, 2013

Summary:

Kraftwerk bring their ground breaking music into the 21st Century with a re-mixed sound and 3D projections.

Kraftwerk

When Kraftwerk take to the stage, it’s hard to believe that this group of middle aged men are the godfathers of modern electronic and dance music.  Take away their Tron outfits, and they’d easily pass for your average high school geography teacher.  But as the show gets underway it becomes quickly apparent how influential their musical legacy still is, and just how shockingly futuristic their music must have sounded to those who first heard the ground breaking “Autobahn” way back in 1974.

This new show dusts down a formidable arsenal of ground breaking tracks, re-mixed with added clarity and resolution, enabling what originally sounded a little weedy on record, to be transformed into a much fatter, dynamic sound.

The music itself, Germanic, detached, and chronicling the groups obsession with technology and man.  There ain’t a lot of humour on show here to be sure.   But ‘Tour De France’ has never sounded better, it’s rhythmic pants and grunts sounding more like a robotic combustion engine than a cyclist.  ‘Radio-activity’ features the names of the world’s most infamous nuclear reactors, ominously read over a pulsating electronic soundtrack,  while ‘Computerworld’ is, well, mainly about computers.   Only ‘The Model’, their best known track, hints at some human emotion beneath the technology and detachment.

Kraftwerk are a band whose concept extends well beyond just recording electronic music.  All of their albums feature strong iconic, graphic art, with Teutonic imagery of the musicians, not as humans, but as robots.  This has now been wonderfully re-imagined into 3D, with a stunning montage of graphics accompanying each track, and projected on a huge screen behind the largely inert group.

So with the opener “The Robots” we get the familiar red shirted, black tied Kraftwerk mannequins (inspired by the cover of the Man Machine album), whose outstretched arms reach over into the auditorium.  The ‘Autbahn’ sequence has the rudimentary graphic feel of a 1980’s computer game, but with  beautifully rendered 100 feet long Mercedes and Volkswagons.

‘Trans Europe Express’ features a speeding express train coming out of the night across the heads of the audience.    The standout though was ‘Spacelab’, where satellites fly out towards the crowd, their antenna threatening to impale us.  In fact it’s so good it get’s a round of applause.

One thing that the show does prove however, is that even with all their love of new technology, it’s not infallible, and the 3D system crashes about three songs in, and doesn’t reappear for another ten minutes.

Despite the glitch, this a was spectacular show, and the use of 3D graphics mixed into a live show, must be a concept we’re all going to see a lot more of over the next few years.  Even almost 40 years after “Autobahn” Kraftwerk are still innovating .

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24 Comments

  1. Hi, the track is called “The Robots” not “We are the Robots”.

    Regards

  2. “The music itself, Germanic, detached,” – spoken like a true anglo, That’s so simplistic it’s ridiculous as is your entire write up. They themselves had said they wanted to do funk which is evident in the slow BPM and heavy bass lines. Their track “Numbers” was on the “black” charts in the states when it debuted (and panned by people like yourself), and i didn’t get that from a google search, i was there. What u can find is how it inspired tracks like “planet rock”, pure funk and all kinds of hip hop, as opposed to say AC/DC (cold anglo music). I guess u want it to be “Germanic” so as to not shatter your silly stereo type of Germany. And no i’m not German or Black, just not ignorant.

    • Matt Reply

      Thanks Gee.

      I’m not stereotyping or disparaging Germany, just stating that the German language, and Germany itself, are an intrinsic part of Kraftwerk’s music. 1970’s Berlin, and Dusseldorf, plus their experience of East Germany, must have been a big influence on the tone of their compositions, just as places like Manchester England were on bands like Joy Division. That doesn’t stop them from influencing dance, electronic or even hip-hop.

      By the way, ACDC are Australian.

      • Living in Dusseldorf must have had an influence on Kraftwerk, but your analogy with Manchester is actually quite absurd. Dusseldorf is and was a wealthy city with a world-famous academy of arts, and it is actually closer to Amsterdam than to East Germany, and closer to Paris than to Berlin. This kind of post-industrial gloom which affected the north of England so heavily never really happened in Dusseldorf, and in the 70s it certainly was as Western German as a city could be, if East Germany is your measure. I would recommend http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%BCsseldorf

        • Matt Reply

          Neon – what I said was Manchester was an influence on Joy Division. Not that Dusseldorf was like Manchester. My overall point being that all music, to a degree, is influenced by the time and the place in which it is made

  3. Well if we’re splitting hairs the original title was “Die Roboter”…

    Nice review Matt. I’ve seen them a few weeks ago in the Tate Modern in London… first night the Autobahn gig…. fantastic…

    • Matt Reply

      Thanks Ludo. It was a great gig, I’d like to catch them again though not sure they will be back in Asia for a while. The Tate Modern gig would have been really something – that massive turbine hall must have been a brilliant backdrop to the music

  4. What really went wrong when the song ” Numbers” was being performed? The screen went blank for the entire length of the song. Quite disappointing, as a good treat of visual display was lost. Was it a glitch from Kraftwerk or Esplanade?

    • Matt Reply

      Hard to say, but I think more likely to be a Kraftwerk glitch, it flicked up briefly with what looked like a graphics software egg timer, I guess when it was re-booting. Also the Kraftwerk-ien on the right kept running off, I guess to see if he could fix it. Still, at least it allowed us to just listen to the excellent music for a while, so not all bad

      • But as it happened on “Numbers” was being performed. We all know now that the man on the right side, yes i’m talking about Falk Grieffenhagen, is the video programmer. We saw him very upset during that song. 🙂

    • Matt Reply

      Not sure Barry – seemed longer than 5 mins but I could be wrong. BTW – I thought the length of the overall performance was about right. 2 hours of really quality music and video. Brilliant stuff. I’d love to see them again.

  5. nice review Matt. I was there too and if anyone of you may have noticed, I was on the front, right hand side stalls (the only one person in that area!!!). That whole section was empty!! I booked that seat(E3) but was informed that I was suppose to be moved to the centre stalls because they claimed that my view would be blocked by the stage speakers.
    Anyway, my seat was fine and being that close to the speakers was FANTASTIC!! Every bass beat and pitch clicks were clear and loud!! Really blessed that I still had the opportunity to see them live after over 30 years of listening to their music. The first time I saw them was in 1981, Birmingham, UK. They had their whole Kling Klang studio shipped out for their live performances!!! Now its all so compact!!
    In comparison, their music is the main event and even after all these years… THEY ARE STILL THE FUTURE !!! The music was very much spice up and sounded much “fatter” and “crusty” solid!! All the older tracks like Autobaun, TEE, Numbers, Computer world and Robots all sounded as if they were written in 2013!! Truly INNOVATIVE and INSPIRING!!
    The 3D visuals is indeed a new experience and the LED and stage lights provided an effect that compliment the 3D backdrop.. sort of like 3D on 3D effect!!??
    Yes indeed it really showed a “human” side to their performance with the technical glitch they had on “Numbers” ( it felt almost unreal). I noticed that they also minor cocked up on the start to “the Model” too… Ralf started count in “1, 2” (in German) and the music triggered before he could get to finish counting to 4.
    The venue’s acoustic was great although I was hoping to have a louder volume (even from where I was seated). However, it was a real disappointment when they have to force you to leave your cameras behind in their locker!!! What age do they live in now( the management of Esplanade)?? Don’t they know that even if you stop cameras, how do they stop your phone cams??? No matter what, photos will still be taken!!! Dud……. so anyone of you who did take photos with their phones, appreciate and please post them here!!!
    Enuf said…. It was another memorable KRAFTWERK event!!!!

    • Matt Reply

      hi mate, wow, so many dedicated fans in Singapore. I have come to Kraftwerk a bit late to be honest, so this was the first time I’ve seen them, but am definitely a convert now though. Seeing them in 1981 would have been something, must have been a bigger tech challenge back then to keep all the synth’s in tune and working. I didn’t realise they did not let people in with their cameras – glad I didn’t take mine. Agree, completely pointless when all new smartphones take great shots and hi def video. My Instagram shots were taken with my iPhone. I noticed that there was no mobile signal in Esplanade – I think that’s ok, having everyone texting and tweeting through the show is a bit distracting. Agree with you on the beefed up sound, love it, Radioactivity in particular was really epic and powerful, I think much better now than the original version. Even louder would have been good.

      • Hi Matt,
        For your info, i flew in from Brunei just for the concert and wouldn’t miss for the world!! What a great night it was!! Am still “high” for the concert and downloading all available vids and pics on Youtube and now instagram!!
        In the 80’s they had to ship the whole “Kling Klang” studio over which filled up the whole stage!! They were more mobile then as well and during Pocket Calculator, they actually came to the front of the stage with hand held gadgets that made all the “blips and blobs” sounds and invited the front audience to reach out to trigger the gadgets!! It was amazing to watch then!!
        The disappointment of the night was no encore!!?? Thought they would at least brought out their robot doubles for the finale!! (like in the past)…. anyway, I would hope that they will return soon, next year, perhaps? Or…. may still have the chance to go for the Hong Kong gig!!!????
        Cheers and carry on the Kraftwerk beats!!!

    • Matt Reply

      A bit tame perhaps, but it’s Singapore, and I find the crowds here, even a mainly ex-pat one, are a bit subdued compared to Europe. But that said, there was a great turn out, and they have some pretty passionate fans here, as I can tell by some of the comments on this review 😉

  6. hallo matt,
    i want to ask your permission to use the photos..
    for my review.. if it’s ok..
    i sat at the cheapest seat.. it’s not a good spot to take a pic with a phone.
    lemme know..
    thanks.

  7. Wow amaizin i want to go to the concert when they are coming in Holland

    • Matt Reply

      You should try and get along – great live experience!

  8. Pingback: Kraftwerk – Esplanade Singapore, 25 April 2013 | Music for stowaways

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