Monday, 12 June 2017

Kraftwerk

Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Four stars

A flying saucer orbits over Edinburgh Castle before landing outside the Usher Hall. That's the story anyway according to the animated visuals for this 3D extravaganza from the original electronic boy band. Whether the alien craft is responsible for depositing the over-excited stage invader who briefly manages to jump aboard mid-set isn't on record. The four men of a certain age lined up hunched over fairy-lit consoles and sporting LED laced Lycra outfits as they pump out their hugely influential back-catalogue of retro-futuristic electro-pop remain oblivious.

There is nevertheless a sublime display of humanity on display. The quartet of Ralf Hutter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert and Falk Grieffenhagen lend a surprising warmth to compositions given fresh pulse by the state of art visual display. While the band stand stock still at what appears to be a set of old-school keyboards, sound and vision are in perpetual motion. This is the case whether manning the controls of the aforementioned flying saucer, driving in the middle of the road for Autobahn or racing along railway tracks for Trans Europe Express. Then there is the proto techno of Tour de France, as the night shifts up a gear to effectively become a sit-down rave.

The encore of The Robots sees the stage lined up with computer operated facsimiles of the band's former selves. These scarlet shirted mannequins bust some moves like choreographed Action Men cutting loose. As the band return for a final Music Non-Stop, 3D images of musical notes fly out with abandon. Each member does a synthesised solo before departing one by one with a little showbiz bow. In a night run on hi-tech machinery, it's a very human gesture.

 
The Herald, June 12th 2017

ends

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