Monday 27 May 2019

Still Krafty after all these years

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

German godfathers of electronica Kraftwerk perform at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin on Saturday
German godfathers of electronica Kraftwerk perform at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin on Saturday
John Meagher

John Meagher

After having to move their show from the arcadian setting of Luggala in Wicklow, to the less memorable environs of Dublin 8 due to inclement weather, Kraftwerk must have thought they would be afflicted with no further problems.

The German godfathers of electronica -- whose 1970s oeuvre helped birth dance, techno and the building blocks of hip hop -- could hardly have imagined that a continuously malfunctioning curtain would thwart their otherwise slick show.

For a concert that was as much about the arresting visuals as it was about the music, there was an air of farce when the rogue curtain refused to close for the bit that's become an integral part of the Kraftwerk live experience -- the appearance of four robots for, surprise, surprise, The Robots. Cue four annoyed looking Germans who stayed rooted to their keyboards while stage hands sought frantically to remedy the situation.

Elsewhere, though, Kraftwerk proved to be incredibly polished as they raced through a set that included all the material one would expect -- 'Autobahn', 'Computerworld', 'The Man Machine', 'Neon Lights', 'Tour de France'.

'Radioactivity' sounded especially potent -- thanks to Ralf Hutter's ominous words about Sellafield -- while 'The Model' provided one of the night's few singalong moments.

The standout was a magnificent version of 'Trans Europe Express' -- one of the most influential tracks of the 1970s. It still sounds great in 2008, and its potency was aided by some stunningly synchronised visuals.

As is their wont, the crowd wasn't acknowledged once. Nor was the non-appearance of founding member Florian Schneider, whose place was taken by Stefan Pfaffe, a technician at the band's famed Kling Klang studio in Dusseldorf.

For those who caught Kraftwerk live at the Olympia in 2004 or at Electric Picnic the following year, the show may have felt a little similar. But the quality of the music was always going to win out.

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