Who would have think that Kraftwerk, the elegant german band initiated by the two rich kids Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider (soon join on percussion by the two middle class workers Wolfgang Flür and classically trained Karl Bartos) would have sold out 8 consecutive shows at the Moma museum in New York City in less than an hour ?
There's no doubt that Kraftwerk is one of the most important group in the history of music, period. But one can doubt about its real actual legacy when, 50 years after it's been created, Kraftwerk is now the sole lawyers-powered trademark of Ralf Hutter who shows himself on stage in his fluo pyjama and three rather anonymous musicians. We're a far cry from the uber creative nucleus that were Hutter-Schneider-Bartos-Flur between Radioactivity (1975) and Electric Cafe (1986) before Kraftwerk somehow began to slide down in a different mode punctuated by the immense love of cycling that was Hutter's addiction. Back then, a normal day at Kling-Klang studio (their Dusseldorf hide-out) would see them cycling during the afternoon, going to have an ice-cream at daybreak and start long, loooong nights in the studio. Somehow, this immensely slow creative process would mean the end of the band and when Flür and Bartos, especially Bartos as he was the main melodist in the band, left Kraftwerk, the two remainning members found themselves brain dry and we haven't really heard anything new from them in decades, if not for a few songs stretching desesperately themes already heard before.
What would it take for Ralf Hütter to realize he really doesn't want to end up like these bands that keep touring with no real connections to what they once were ? With only the cousin of the original bass player ? Or the second guitar player that replaced the lead singer who was featured on the compilation album ? Bands that have nothing but canevas of songs to play but no real substance ? He's the only original member left, and the shows are empty shells of great songs duly played with lots of modern fireworks but no soul. What would be amazing is a Kraftwerk reunion with the 4 members coming together and creating yet another splendid opus !
In the meantime, tickets for their 8 retrospective gigs at the Moma were sold in minutes and the intrusion of Kraftwerk in museums (they already played their 3D set in Munchen) is a clever move, one step closer to immortality and maybe one step closer to have these robots finally put at rest.
original article: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/04/12/arts/20120412KRAFTWERK.html
Kraftwerk website: www.kraftwerk.com
Karl Bartos website: www.karlbartos.com
list of Kraftwerk equipment used along the years: http://kraftwerkfaq.hu/equipment.html
The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Kollector.