Kraftwerk mixes art with music in sell-out shows

Thu Feb 7, 2013 8:56am EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk have always aimed to combine music and art so performing at London's Tate Modern was the ideal venue for them after three years of planning.

Kraftwerk took over the 800-capacity Turbine Hall at the art gallery on Wednesday to play the first of eight consecutive shows, each focused on a different album, starting with "Autobahn" from 1974 and ending with "Tour de France" from 2003.

The sight of four middle-aged men in skintight neon suits standing almost motionless on stage behind a line of consoles backed by 3D images may look bizarre to the uninitiated but to the group's devoted following it all seems to make sense.

When tickets went on sale in December, priced at 60 pounds ($95) each, the demand crashed the gallery's website.

Two similar eight night runs at New York's Museum of Modern Art and in Kraftwerk's home town of Duesseldorf were also sold out with massive demand to see the group hailed by some as one of the most influential in pop history.

Catherine Wood, curator of contemporary art and performance at the Tate Modern, said it made sense for Kraftwerk to perform in an art gallery, and particularly at the Tate Modern which was once a power station - the English translation of Kraftwerk.

"They have a history of engaging with visual art, with minimal form, and perform in a way that is completely at odds with the usual idea of the rock star by putting the robot in the foreground," Wood told Reuters.

"It takes away the aura of the artist and they have played with that in a very knowing way."   Continued...

German electronic band Kraftwerk perform with a 3d stage set at the Tate Modern in London February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor