Got tickets for Kraftwerk April 20 – interesting that in a way it’s not really Kraftwerk the band, but rather a karaoke version of a former band, including only one original member, lots of special effects and no improv whatsoever.
This in other circumstances would be regarded as a dull cash-in; yet as other contemporaries aged terribly (Tangerine Dream in particular pretty much became a sort of cousin to Kenny G, naff beyond naff), Kraftwerk emancipated itself from the pop lexicon by becoming a sheer cutting edge technological “procedure” quite early on, in the form of endless variations on a very precise kind of detached nostalgia. This ensures a continuous renewal of their resonance: their essence still applies, and always will. Other bands with one member left have become a branding exercise: Kraftwerk has become a semantic territory.
So this is what we’ll experience on the gig, I expect: a narrative, a requiem for a very Twentieth-Century-like utopia, one where Europe would rise as a guardian of humanist values, and technology would work it all out for us in an endlessly modern rêverie. Not devoid of a darker undercurrent, but highly seductive in its calculated naiveté.
If Kraftwerk no longer exists, it is not because three of its four classic line-up members are gone: it’s because its sustained narrative gave way to its worst nemesis. Europe agonises in the hands of technocrats and hidden agendas, and technology has become our worst real-time neurosis.
Bring on the karaoke, then: we shall dream of a time that never came to be.