Kraftwerk Work Magic in Manchester

Manchester Apollo Theatre
March 17, 2004
It's not long after 8pm and four men are on stage.
They're all dressed identically in brown suits with shirts and ties, and they're all equally positioned across the stage at identical music podiums.

This could be a corporate business presentation or
an art installation featuring Gilbert and George clones.
It's not though; it's Kraftwerk creating an event featuring music
and simply dazzling visuals.

Each song is accompanied by animated graphics that range from tumbling pills (Vitamin) to a giant calculator (Numbers), they add a dramatic effect, and during Autobahn and Trans Europe Express, old movie footage pans behind the band creating a giddy sense of movement.
Even the sound is perfectly synced to the imagery.

Music-wise the back catalogue is dusted down for a 'best of' including,
Tour De France, Radioactivity, The Model and Autobahn.

The audience consists of middle-aged rock musos, the die-hard fans, sussed-out djs and the odd clubber,
It's an eclectic mix and a broad age group. It's been 13 years since a UK tour and the audience watch intently savoring every last image and sound.

The band maintain their postures throughout the show, the only movement is by
Ralf Hutter who raises his hand to his right ear whenever he sings.
He's accompanied by music that is ultra clear with a body shaking bass.

The aces are saved for the encores where we're treated to robotic versions of the band performing The Robots, which has everybody trying to figure out how it's done.
Music Non Stop brings the show to a close, with the band in fluorescent body suits, and the bank of screens behind providing a matching backdrop.

They leave one by one, eventually Ralf speaks; 'Thank you England, Manchester', and then it's over.

It's a show that is unlike any other, Kraftwerk the pioneers of electronic music create a show that matches their uniqueness precisely. It's a sublime and refreshing experience, with man, music and machine all working as one.

Kraftwerk perform at the Ricoh Collesium in Toronto on April 23.

Writer: Peter Doherty

Photo:Peter Doherty

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