Kraftwerk Beam Down Into Melbourne Captain's Log Stardate 0812230830pm #REVIEW -
Kraftwerk at MCA Melbourne 8 December 2023 photo by Winston Robinson, Noise11

Kraftwerk at MCA Melbourne 8 December 2023 photo by Winston Robinson, Noise11

Kraftwerk Beam Down Into Melbourne Captain’s Log Stardate 0812230830pm #REVIEW

by Paul Cashmere on December 9, 2023

in News

I wasn’t quite prepared for the “strap in and enjoy the ride’ experience of Kraftwerk. I hadn’t seen them live since the Big Day Out of 2003. It was still light when they came in, in the tent (not the outdoor stage) and they were wearing suits. Someone at the time commented that it was like watching four businessmen in the Qantas Club sending emails to each other.

Jump forward 20 years and it could be 200 years on. 2023 technology has finally caught up with the music Kraftwerk were making it for in 1973. Now they are like four astronauts in Star Trek … well, the sending each other emails part is still the same.

Kraftwerk is one incredible audio and visual experience. To think that ‘Autobahn’ is coming up to its 50th anniversary, ‘The Model’ is now 45 years old, in fact, 75% of this setlist is more than 40 years old, when you watch this show it still feels futuristic.

It has been twenty years since the last Kraftwerk album ‘Tour de France soundtracks’, recorded in 2003 for the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, France’s annual bicycle race. Apart from that there hadn’t been a new Kraftwerk record (except for remixes and live albums) since ‘Electric Café’ in 1986. There is however a new and unreleased piece early in this set titled ‘Tango’ attached to the 1975 track ‘Airwaves’.

The captain of this enterprise is founding member and lead singer Ralf Hütter. Ralf founded Kraftwerk with the late Florian Schneider in 1969. Florian’s 39 year tenure is honored on the screen during the show. He passed away in 2020.

In 2003, when I saw that early show, visuals were very basic. In 2023, technology allows the screens to match the song. An autobahn screens behind ‘Autobahn’, images of classic models in ‘The Model’ are behind the group, computers for the ‘Computerwelt’ tracks, robots for ‘The Robots’. Kraftwerk were once theatre of the mind. Now they are also theatre of the eyes.

Kraftwerk are an understated band. Its questionable if Bowie would have gone to ‘Low’ and Heroes’ level if there was no Kraftwerk. That would have triggered a domino effect of acts that may not have ever happened, like Gary Numan and The Human League. Would then Daniel Lanois have taken U2 to the ‘Joshua Tree’? In an alternate reality, with no Kraftwerk, music in 2023 could be in a very different position.

I can only describe the feel of this event as “an experience”. It is like going on a theme park ride. It finishes, and you want to go again.

Kraftwerk setlist, MCA Melbourne, 8 December 2023.

Numbers / Computer World (from Computerwelt, 1981)
It’s More Fun to Compute / Home Computer (from Computerwelt, 1981)
Spacelab (from Die Mensch-Maschine, 1978)
Airwaves / Tango (from Radio-Activity, 1975/new and unreleased)
The Man-Machine (from Die Mensch-Maschine, 1978)
Electric Café (from Electric Café, 1986)
Autobahn (from Autobahn, 1974)
Computer Love (from Computerwelt, 1981)
The Model (from Die Mensch-Maschine, 1978)
Neon Lights (from Die Mensch-Maschine, 1978)
Geiger Counter / Radioactivity (from Radio-Aktivität, 1975)
Tour de France 1983 / Chrono / Tour de France Étape 2 (from Tour de France Soundtracks, 2003)
Vitamin (from Tour de France Soundtracks, 2003)
Trans-Europe Express / Metal on Metal / Abzug (from Trans Europe Express, 1977)

The Robots (from Die Mensch-Maschine, 1978)
Planet of Visions (from Minimum-Maximum, 2005)
Boing Boom Tschak / Techno Pop / Music Non-Stop (from Electric Café, 1986)

Kraftwerk have two more Australian shows to go:

12 December, Adelaide, Entertainment Centre Theatre
15 December, Perth, Riverside Theatre

As well as an appearance at Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, Victoria today (9 December, 2023).

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