Spent today watching Kraftwerk's
together with sunjan
and Justina; kjn
joined us later in the afternoon but only got to see the second disc. Of course it's partially brilliant (I still get goosebumps from "The Man-Machine" and "Neon Lights"), but I did get a slightly sour taste from seeing the really ugly black field on the "Music Non Stop" backing video — it's there to block out Wolfgang Flür's face.1
While I understand why they do it, they could have done a much less obvious job of it. I still love their music, but every time I hear of them pursuing their copyright in dubious ways Ralf and Florian drop a bit in my esteem. Only last year they filed a complaint with eBay when Wolfgang put up his old red shirt and black tie for auction (with all proceeds going to charity), because he mentioned the name of his old band in the auction.
After the show, I played video and audio snippets of older concerts. The premiere of "Europe Endless" and "Trans-Europe Express" (live at Paradiso, Amsterdam, September 11 1976), both in rather primitive and almost brutal versions; "Pocket Calculator" live on the Computerworld tour, with the hand-held instruments and a real miked-up calculator; "Vitamin" in Helsinki (Helsingin Jäähalli, February 6 2004), with Ralf's vocals almost an octave higher than usual... If nothing else it makes me realise how much things have changed, and also how many interesting recordings I have in my vaults.
I presume everyone who is even slightly interested in Kraftwerk knows about Wolfgang's 1999 autobiography Ich war ein Roboter
(translated into English as I was a robot
), which lead his former bandmates Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider to sue him. Their attitude can roughly be summed up as "Wolfgang is lying most of the time, and when he's telling the truth for a change you wish he hadn't". Whether this is true I cannot tell, but I know that his book, though interesting, isn't very good. I agree with the description I found in a review: "bitter and bonkers". Not to mention having a significantly higher sexual content than is usual in a Kraftwerk context.