Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Monday, 4 December 2023
THOSE WHO OF US WHO'D SNEAKED A PEEK AT VIDEOS from recent Kraftwerk performances walked into tonight's show believing we knew what to expect. How wrong we were! The group are touring on the back of their appearance at Meredith Music Festival and these are their first shows in Australia in a decade. From the opening notes of a 'Numbers'/'Computer World' medley, Kraftwerk grab the audience's attention with a combination of breathtaking visuals and unexpectedly dynamic music. While much of it is indeed pre- sequenced, Ralf Hutter's live keyboard lines soar above the mix - at times caressing the ear, at others challenging them.
Arguably as important as the music, the show's visuals have become an integrated part of the performance and are absolutely stunning in the flesh. The Tron-suited, static performers and vibrant images become one with the music. And the lack of movement isn't a drawback in the slightest, but instead accentuates the spectacle.
While the usual suspects ('Radioactivity', 'Trans-Europe Express', 'Man-Machine') are all sumptuously served up, the revelation of the night is the selection of tracks from the Tour de France Soundtracks album, forcing this reviewer to re-evaluate its position in the Kraftwerk canon.
The sound mix in the mid-section of the show is, at times, a little ropey - with 'Autobahn' in particular suffering. Though perversely, this only adds to the enjoyment of the show as a whole, emphasising that this is most definitely a warts-and-all live performance, not an automated playback by robots.
At this stage in Kraftwerk's career one can't just approach a concert without a set of expectations. While these may differ from person to person, generally speaking they are as likely to be disappointed as met. What was surprising with this concert universally exceeded expectations - at least amongst my circle of battle-hardened music friends. If this is the last time that Kraftwerk grace our shores, it will be remembered as being at a highpoint of an illustrious career.