It’s hilarious that when you translate the beginning of Dentaku into English you get:
Boku wa ongaku ka = I’m a musician
Dentaku katate ni = With pocket calculator in my hand
Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “I’m the operator of my pocket calculator”, does it?
Where the hell do you start when discussing a Kraftwerk show? Perhaps it’s best to have the visual reference first. These pics of the Kraftwerk show in Dublin seem to be about the best synopsis I’ve seen so far. I didn’t bring my camera for fear that they wouldn’t let me in with it.
After checking those out, you should definitely read my mate Toby’s excellent, 2000+ word reaction to it. I know that’s very long, but I bet you’ll find it illuminating. He is easilly the biggest Kraftwerk fan I know. He saw them at all three London shows last week, twice on Saturday night.
I’ll take up where I left off. There was a huge posse of us down the pub, and we made our way over in shifts. The queue was fairly enormous when we got there, but it was moving faster than any queue like that I’ve seen. I had never been in the Brixton Academy before. It is pretty damn big – holds about 4000. When we got in we headed for the bar and chatted with some of the die-hards that arrived early.
When we heard the music kicking off we headed front-right, as it seemed the easiest place to reach with a good view. It turned out to be kind of lame there though, so we wandered all the way over to the front left, where we assumed everyone would be (front and center seemed impossible). During this time they played a few songs from the new album. I’ve heard most of them before, but while I think they’re alright, the whole thing left me feeling a bit nonplused. It just wasn’t anything special, yet…
When they played ‘The Model’ things kicked off. There were these amazing videos of gorgeous 60s models playing in the background, and the familiarity of it triggered some excitement. Unfortunately, at this point we were stood in front of a guy who sung along to all the songs, knew only half the words, and whistled the bits he didn’t know the words to. Supremely annoying…
Just when I was about ready to kick him in the nuts we ran out of beer, so we hit the bar. Just then ‘Radioactivity’ kicked in, which was a completely sup’d up version. The sound in the bar was actually pretty good too, so I was really excited to head back in with full beverages on the strength of a few great songs in a row. We wandered to the middle of the floor this time, and miraculously everyone seemed to appear around us. It was just about this time that they started to play loads of my favorite songs, and the visuals were awesome for all of them. Some of my favorite moments included ‘Tour de France’, ‘TransEurope Express’, ‘Computer Love’, ‘Numbers’, ‘Pocket Calculator/Dentaku’ (awesome and hilarious culculator input visuals/sounds to go with them) and the ‘Music Non Stop’ finale. But far and away the coolest part was THE ROBOTS, which were sooooo f*cking cool.
Kraftwerk left the stage for a bit, and the curtains closed, although it was quite clear they were not done yet. After a bit, these strobes on the ground in front of the robots at 45° left and 45° right would flash in alternation, lighting up the robots behind the curtain. When the curtain was opened, you got to see them moving, which was so damn cool. My friend Matt took this (rather shaky) video. They were almost as cool as these dancing robots, but cooler since they were synchronized to Kraftwerk playing live. The afterparty coordination was rather a mess, and not worth going into, but suffice it to say that everyone had a good time, even if the party didn’t run all night long.