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Way back when, when I first started listening to music, Kraftwerk were dismissed as music for weirdos, derided as “krautrock” by music critics and as passionless, Teutonic nerds by those who aspired to be cool. A song about a motorway that filled an entire side of an LP – how could that be anything other than deathly boring? But Kraftwerk turned out to be one of the most influential music acts of the 20th century – and, most unexpectedly, it was on dance music that they would have the biggest influence.

My first experience of Kraftwerk live was at Sydney’s Global Gathering in 2008. Finishing off a glorious day that had starred Sasha and Above & Beyond (before they began their descent into trance 2.0), Kraftwerk simply blew me away. So I was thrilled when they announced they were playing a series of eight shows at Sydney Opera House as part of the 2013 Vivid festival. The concept for ‘The Catalogue’ was one show for each of their albums from ‘Autobahn’ onwards, with the show starting with them playing the entire album and continuing with all the big tunes from the other albums. So, whichever show you attended, you wouldn’t miss out on The Model, Trans-Europe Express, Radioactivity, Computer Love, The Robots or Autobahn.


The Man Machine

We entered the ticket lottery and emerged with tickets for the final show, ‘Tour de France’. And just a week beforehand, Garth managed to acquire tickets held back for technical reasons, so we were also going to see the fourth part of the series, ‘The Man Machine’.


Metropolis

Four and a half years on from the day they first blew me away at Global Gathering, Kraftwerk did it again. Take your choice of superlatives – awesome, sensational, mind-blowing – however you might try to describe it, words can’t really do justice to the experience. Unbelievably precise and clean sounds allied to thrilling 3D visuals take you on a tour of the Kraftwerk catalogue and you can hear the influences on every style of electronic dance music as the synthesised melodies and beats surround  you.


Autobahn

The videos here don’t give the 3D perspective. Indeed, 3D visuals filmed in 2D not only look flat, but also blurred. So you will have to take my word for it that the visuals were stunning – leagues ahead of anything I’ve ever seen at a music concert before. But hopefully they provide some sense of how amazing it all was.


Tour de France

The videos of The Man Machine, Metropolis and Autobahn were taken at Saturday’s ‘The Man Machine’ show, where we had seats just behind the sound desk. We were centre stage in the front row last night for ‘Tour de France’, where the videos for Tour de France, Trans-Europe Express and The Robots were shot.

Front row was amazing, really close to Ralf Hütter and the other Kraftwerkers – but I think the 3D effects worked better from further back in the auditorium. And it really did feel like two different shows we saw, not just a repeat with a few variations. We even got different versions of Autobahn on the two nights.


Trans-Europe Express

Overall, it was undoubtedly a very special musical experience – up there with all the best shows I can recall. If you ever get the opportunity to see Kraftwerk live, don’t give it a second’s thought: just do it!


The Robots

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