Last night was the first night of the big Kraftwerk retrorespective at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. There’s already a good set of links and photos popping up online and we can’t wait to keep reading on about this week’s set of shhows. The first album done was Autobahn…
Tuesday’s concert was the beginning of Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, with Kraftwerk performing eight consecutive albums on eight nights for just 450 people per show. Only Mr. Hutter remains from Kraftwerk’s original lineup; the other current members are Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert and Stefan Pfaffe. Onstage the quartet stood at keyboards — playing some of the music’s components live — in front of a very active video screen with images that sometimes sandwiched the musicians between the planes of eye-popping three-dimensional geometry and typography. (Concertgoers were handed 3D glasses on the way in to the museum’s atrium.)
Last night’s “Autobahn” lasted 12 minutes, paired with images of synthetic green mountains, a deep blue sky, and an open road that all in some sense recalled the aesthetic of Windows ’95. At a point the cars were driving straight at the crowd, and at turns, we had an aerial view. The backdrop for “Kometenmelodie 1” was a dark, glistening sky full of stars (one shooting) and a slow-crawling marquee of notes on a staff. An image of Earth emerged with an orbiting label for the group’s famed studio, King Klang, which elicited a piercing shriek from a crowd member.
Kraftwerk presented its 1974 debut album Autobahn, and the seminal group surprised fans by also playing some of its greatest hits, including “Trans-Europe Express,” “The Robots,” “The Model” and “Tour de France,” and showing off new 3D videos.
Those 450 volks, er, folks lucky enough to make it through the MoMA doors were greeted by a set of lifesize Kraftwerk robots twirling inside display cases in the lobby, where each patron was given their own pair of cardboard 3D-glasses in an Autobahn sleeve.