The Null Device

And we are dancing mekanik

The Kraftwerk gig was excellent. I showed up and made my way to the balcony, finding a spot with a good view of the stage, as David Thrussell was playing all sorts of weird tunes. Then the DJ stopped, and things were quiet for some minutes, except for the crowd yelling and stamping.

Then the Metro was filled with the sound of an old-fashioned speech synthesizer uttering bits of German, and the curtain rose, revealing four middle-aged men standing behind consoles (and looking not unlike characters from some Star Trek-like TV show). They played Computerworld and the projection screen glowed cathode-ray green (older readers may remember this colour); they also did Pocket Calculator, with an animation of a calculator, their (quite topical) anti-nuclear protest song Radioactivity, a version of Neon Lights with a verse in German, and their one song about a pretty girl, The Model.

While they stayed at their workstations, playing keyboards and operating their laptops, visuals were projected on the screen behind them, ranging from the sorts of retrofuturistic computer graphics (lots of wireframes; remember when those were cool and shading was too expensive?) to old stock footage of the Tour de France, train and road travel across Europe and the like.

Their songs varied quite a bit from the recordings; the version of The Robots started with them transposing the main riff into different notes, and went on into some improvisation with new (yet quite fitting) synth lines.

(Oh yes, the consoles they were using looked pretty nifty, consisting of a keyboard of some sort, a foot pedal and a laptop. I wonder whether the keyboard part is an off-the-shelf instrument of some sort, or a box containing various controllers and such, and indeed whether the keyboard is not just a controller for software on the laptop, Kraftwerk being famed for their fondness for Cubase VST.)

There are 3 comments on "And we are dancing mekanik":

Posted by: Luke Thu Jan 30 04:54:12 2003

The keyboard setups are off-the-shelf. They're running XP on VAIOs, and pretty much everything is, I believe, VST-based. There's a small amount of signal-generation/fading/whatever done extra-laptop, but not a great deal.

I'd written and linked about it after I saw them:

As I recall - and hear from other sets - the songs that were different to "proper" albums followed versions that appeared on The Mix, including "The Robots".

Posted by: Rob Skelton Thu Jan 30 10:59:52 2003

I went to the Crap Day Out and was on the verge of heading home feeling 100% disappointed when I remembered Kraftwerk were playing in the Big Top. Although I was a big fan when I was younger, I didn't expect to be so gobsmacked, dancing and grinning all at the same time. One of the best gigs I've seen, any easily worth the price of the BDO ticket.

Posted by: Ben the REAL Ben Sat Feb 1 06:59:20 2003

Somehow I don't see how seeing a band like Kraftwerk live would be any better than listening to them on CD. Or am I (as usual) missing something?

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