Always a great pleasure hearing Kraftwerk at full volume whilst out and about: you can multiply that enjoyment by ten when it’s being battered out from several laptops by someone resembling an off their head geography teacher crossed with the male half of Edward and Tubbs from The League Of Gentlemen.
Such are the goings on at this thoroughly bonkers, thoroughly eccentric and thoroughly excellent evening.
Wolfgang Flür may have left Kraftwerk thirty years ago but, once he actually manages to remember his computer password and get the visuals and music up and running – an indication on its own of how occasionally whacky the event is – you are left in no doubt from whence he comes.
Film and stills form a backdrop and document the defiantly Teutonic and largely expressionless band: a healthy splattering of music from that era pummels us into a grooving froth.
And pummel is the correct word – there may be recognisable snapshots of delicate classics like ‘Pocket Calculator’ and ‘Neon Lights’ but, from the opening and crushingly excellent, ‘Home Computer’, it’s filtered through thumping and modern techno and tech house; this show is not for the fainthearted and the speakers fair rattle as things get progressively heavier and it becomes impossible not to dance.
Which is a good job as we are politely invited to do so in the inscrutable way that epitomises the aesthetic – “The following is suitable for dancing”…”Why thank you”, we think, “Don’t mind if we do”.
It’s a measure of the contradictions at work with the strict machine-like music and the tight as you like lines in the films and graphics that, whilst there is no verbal communication, and we are merely informed we can dance rather than entreated, Wolfgang does some of the finest dad-dancing ever witnessed: it’s a slightly mental uncle going gradually more nuts looking not unlike someone attempting to conduct a lightning storm with a baton; marvellous and absolutely individual stuff.
All in all, the evening almost has the air of a holiday slideshow – lots of shots of the family, as was, presented in grainy but stylish relief, accompanied by massive, heavy grooves.
The weight of the beats may not be entirely what some of the crowd expected but they are occasionally punctuated by tunes we all know and love and that predictably get a great reaction: a crackle goes through the venue whenever a favourite eases itself into the mix: it’s a curious mixture that manages to be both nostalgic and from the future all at once.
And with that, we are tossed out into the street: sweaty, baffled, slightly surprised but ultimately gleeful.
Turns out being smacked over the head with clonking techno by someone you’d expect to be setting your end of term exams is quite fun.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts
Photos: Caitlin MacIntyre