Kraftwerk can still impress after five decades

Kraftwerk can still impress after five decades: The fact that Kraftwerk was formed in 1970, by students Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider, is just crazy. Think about it for a minute. Rock & roll was still at its peak. Punk hadn’t started yet. What we now call “old school rap” was still nine years away. Disco was a snap. But these Germans were going from krautrock to a pioneering electronic music project before the eyes of the whole world.

We still often think of electronic music as something very contemporary. But the tastes of Kraftwerk and a handful of others, including French electronic composer Jean-Michel Jarre, were creating electronic music when it didn’t really exist. There was no movement and the equipment was rudimentary at best (they often had to design and build their own).

So here we are in 2022, 52 years after the formation of Kraftwerk. They’ve been performing these shows in 3D for the past decade, and this LA gig was originally scheduled for 2020 (rearranged for obvious reasons). And maybe, maybe, artists on the cutting edge right now might see Kraftwerk’s early electronic tracks and their 3D show as quaint. The likes of deadmau5 and Odesza blew their visual performances. But damn it, the impact Kraftwerk has had in bringing electronics into the mainstream has been huge, and they still create art that’s visually stunning while still sounding great.

(@steve_rose)

The combination of man and machine has always been their bag, highlighted by “The Man-Machine” and, later, “The Robots”. Organic and mechanical. The glory of this show is that, while staying on the cutting edge, they embrace technology first. Wearing 3D glasses, old-school personal computers hover in front of us and numbers that look like old binary code scroll by. And this is only on the opening “Numbers” and “Computer World”.

The setlist is a fan’s dream. “Autobahn”, “The Model”, “Radioactivity”, “Tour de France”, “Trans Europe Express” – all are proto-electro classics. The four men are lined up as they normally are, until “Robots” where they are replaced by dancing robots. All the while, 3D delights are floating around, including satellites, UFOs and VW bugs. It is a joy.

“Music Non Stop” is, somewhat ironically, the last song. The music stops. But not before the Shrine saw a group of 52 years old show some newer artists how it’s done.

Kraftwerk can still impress after five decades

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