Kraftwerk in Dublin: Occasionally over repetitive but with moments of genius

Kraftwerk at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin. Stars: 3

It is no exaggeration to say that, along with The Beatles, Kraftwerk is the most influential group in contemporary popular music. Photograph: AP/dpa/Jens Kalaene

It is no exaggeration to say that, along with The Beatles, Kraftwerk is the most influential group in contemporary popular music. Photograph: AP/dpa/Jens Kalaene

 

We should never forget how much of a pioneering group Kraftwerk once was. Beginning in Düsseldorf in the early 1970s, while virtually everyone else was dallying with prog rock and prancing to pop, they fully embraced electronic instrumentation, invented their so-called “robot pop”, and in doing so influenced future genres of music to include electro-pop, hip-hop, techno and club music. It is no exaggeration to say that, along with The Beatles, Kraftwerk is the most influential group in contemporary popular music.

 Unusually for such a vastly influential unit, however, there isn’t the usual engagement with cult of personality. Indeed, as the four tight-costumed men of a certain age position themselves stoically behind their keyboard stands, only the devoted Kraftwerk fan will be able to identify the group’s sole remaining original member, Ralf Hütter. In the space of two hours, it is he who will utter just four words to the fanbase (“good evening, auf wiedersehen”), and who will leave the stage last, appreciative of the room’s standing ovation.

 Here’s another curio, though: what made them so amazing in the 1980s - the futurist aesthetics of man/machine parallels, viewing art as indivisible from everyday mechanical functions, isolation resting beside the ease and comforts of technology - makes them now virtually ordinary commentators on the nature of social media. Thirty-five years ago, Kraftwerk dealt in what to many was science fiction; now, advances in technology has overtaken them.

 This doesn’t make the 3-D presentation of their latest stage production any the less enjoyable. Blending supremely melodic electronic tracks (Trans Europe Express, Neon Lights, Autobahn, Radioactivity, The Robots, The Model) with the proto-glitchy techno they brought into being (Computer Love, Tour de France, Boing Boom Tschak), the show glides over an audience wearing 3-D glasses. Visual backdrops include vintage film footage and 3-D trickery, some of which seems almost quaint.

 That’s not to say the music is in any way similarly bound to the past. The brilliant thing about Kraftwerk is that from the very start they were way ahead of the curve. What this show proves is that while the music can occasionally be overly repetitive, there are always moments when the music glistens with genius.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.