Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Krafterwerk 3D Live at the Symphony Hall Birmingham 13/6/17 review.

How do you update the future? Or rather how do you modernise a band who for the past 40 years with their style, sound, music and overall aesthetic have defined what the the future looks and sounds like? This is is a question which must have been playing on Kraftwerk's minds for a long time.
The idea of mixing Kraftwerk's famous visuals in state of the art 3D is so obvious. Yet it could only be done now. Now that the technology is so much more advanced than it has ever been before. Every single person in the Symphony hall had been given a pair of white 3D specs.
Kraftwerk came on-stage with light up clothes and keyboards and started the set with 'Numbers'. In which the numbers behind the band seemed to fly right off the screen. Throughout the show the 3D effect was stunning. Whether simply adding more depth to the black and white footage used for 'The Model' and 'Tour De France' or giving the illusion of a space craft being inches from your face for 'Spacelab'. Kraftwerk's visuals gave me some idea of what it must have felt like seeing a cinema screen for the first time and being convinced that the train on screen was going to burst though into the theatre.
It's not just the visual aspect of Kraftwerk's music that has been bought straight back up to date however. The minimalist feel of many of their 70's classics has been replaced with a heavy, groovier sound. The simple kick drum effects have been replaced with a heavier bass sound that shook the entire auditorium.
'The Robot's saw Kraftwerk temporarily replaced with actual robot versions of themselves, and 'Spacelab' concluded with a 3D UFO landing directly outside the Symphony Hall itself. Despite being on stage for 28 songs there was hardly a song which felt out of place or a hit that wasn't played*. Kraftwerk's set-list spanned all their albums from 'Autobahn' to 'Tour De France'. The extended medley of songs from 2003's Tour De France proved that it's easily their most underrated album. The pulsating rhythms mixed with the footage of hundreds of cyclists racing made the 'Tour De France' medley the most exhilarating section of the show.

Surprisingly for a band who've made a career out of being isolated from their audience. The Birmingham crowd could almost be considered rowdy. Kraftwerk's remaining founder member Ralph Hutter had to ignore several cheers of his name. Coincidentally the last song of the set was 'Music Non Stop' which had been loudly requested minutes earlier. At the end of 'music non stop' each member of Kraftwerk each member in turn took a bow and left the stage, after two encores and a set-list spanning 40 years.

*except for Showroom Dummies and Pocket Calculator. But I can live without those

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