Kraftwerk's music and images have always seemed as they have arrived from someplace else, from another dimension or from the future. Through the years, its otherworldly image and music may have given an impression of alienation and the synthetic nature of the sounds probably have caused debates of artifice. In fact, it's a music of the machine era, where by removing any trace of humanity from the music, any human emotion that is put inside it, will emphasize those emotions even more. And who would have thought that subjects in certain songs as "Computer Love" and "Computer World" might be more important now than before as it emphasized the strong relationship between a man and a machine.
The show was wonderfully synaesthetic as it mixed sound and vision. The songs are timeless classics and people responded rapturously when they were hit by their favorite song regardless if they were heavily rearranged. But most of the time they listened with great attention seemingly stunned into reverent silence. Even the responses on social networks after the concert were full of fun and images or there were debates as a response to environmental issues. The words of their songs which served as soundbites were put on screen to mesh with the images. The song "Radioactivity" has taken over another dimension and is now a warning to the damaging effects that nuclear plants and other facilities have on the environment and the people. It features a litany of nuclear sites such as "Tschernobyl," "Sellafield," and "Fukushima."
This extraordinary multimedia performance had moments of fun when the band introduced the robots on stage during the song "The Robot." The robots appeared on the stage with their hands stretched as if to embrace the audience. They danced enthusiastically to the beats emphasizing the harmony between machines and humans. There was a thundering applause during "Spacelab," when a flying saucer is first pictured flying over Earth and the city of Skopje and then actually "lands" right outside the venue. The show ended with songs such as "Aerodinamik," "Planet of Visions" and "Boing Boom Tschak / Techno Pop / Music Non Stop." With the last sounds of "Music Non Stop" each of them bowed out and in the end Ralf Hutter bowed and said "auf Wiedersehen" before he departed and ended the show.
All of these songs were rearranged and reimagined masterfully in order to bring them into the "now." Sometimes they strayed so far that these arrangements sometimes acted as mere configurations of melody, sound, and rhythm only to be given some kind of focus by bringing them to their familiar ground. These songs are maybe typical of the days when they were made and yet they are obviously undimmed by age or context. Kraftwerk's two-hour performance was a feast for the senses. It was the prime example of what classical composer Wagner has defined as "Gesamtkunstwerk" or an artistic creation that encompasses music, theatre, and the visual arts. This was a show by fantastically inventive musicians that have boldly explored the hinterlands of modern music for the last 4 decades.
Photo Credit: Bojan Icevski