Saturday, September 1, 2012
mea culpa - gone AWOL since...MARCH?! Yipes. Funny how time slips away. Well, I've not been idling. Work's been thriving, the garden was kept in shape for most of this year, made a buncha trips to Asheville, Los Angeles, Baltimore, DC -- even NYC (which for me STILL feels like a work commute (which it normally is!) There were many musical highlight during this time as well (OF COURSE) and besides all those relating to vintage R&B, soul, jazz, etc. the biggest was...seeing Kraftwerk at the Museum of Modern Art! To be honest I was not initially jazzed when these dates were announced and never attempted to buy tickets. Hell, I didn't go see these guys live in the early 80's when they played the Ontario Theater in DC around the release of "Computer World" - tickets were EXPENSIVE (for my then-threadbare pockets at least) and I was dubious as to what kind of show they'd put on as the hype was that they were carting their entire recording studio around with them and reconstructing it for each night's performance. Not likely anyone would be leaping about, thrashing, er computers, or engaging in any of the shennigans that would register on my ideas of entertaining live performance at the time. And Amy wound up PISSED that tickets had sold out before she even knew that Kraftwerk had annouced these dates. AND THEN - she won tickets from RollingStone.com! Made her very happy. And I was not adverse to tagging along, seeing as how this could the last go-round for these geezers (or me for that matter!) She'd won tickets to Sunday's show which was for "Electric Cafe" performed in its entirety followed by a greatest hits segment. We went up early, had a nice feed (which was our introduction to Prosecco -- DRY Italian sparkling wine: YUM!) headed over to MOMA and got on the already lengthy line and enjoyed a nicely balmy evening for a while. Upon admittance we made straight for the Atrium where the concert was being staged, noted the merch area and went over to check it out. While Amy was poring over the goodies I struck up a conversation with a volunteer doing security who clued me in to the fact that there was a sweet spot in the center of the audience area where you'd get full advantage of quad sound system and 3D visuals which we then proceeded to, happily planting ourselves. Right on time (8:30PM, 8PM? I forget exactly when, but relatively early) the scrim cloaking the stage raised and at their totemic podiums stood -- Ralf Hutter...and three other guys I'd never seen in any photos of the group I've come across. Later press accounts noted that two of them have been in the band since the "Tour De France" days and the last one was a recent edition, in charge of controlling the visuals. And while music's the priority for me, I must admit that the visuals were mighty cool being 3D (glasses came with the complimentary program) with each song getting its own unique video treatment. Some were vintage music videos, others were created specifically for recent live performances. They were all nicely done and no doubt a strategic part of the show considering that the four musicians remain glued to their work stations, eyes glued to their gear, occasionally reaching down to tweak this or that (some press account revealed that most of them just had iPads and were working via apps). Hutter actually sang and played a small keyboard hidden by the lip of his podium. And... It sounded AMAZING. "Electric Cafe" was not my favorite Kraftwerk album but their "performance" (it'd seem that basically everyone started their respective drum, bass or keyboards program, monitoring the song-program and make alterations as necessary -- excepting Hutter who, again, was performing in real time) was vivid, full-bodied and as funky and danceable as utterly white people can get; and I mean that as a compliment. After performing "Electric Cafe" in its entirety in album sequence they launched into the second half of the program which was a career retrospective that touched on most of the key tracks from all their albums from "Autobahn" onwards. I don't know that I'd say I could die happy having finally seen them play "Trans Europe Express" and "Pocket Calculator" live -- but it was an undeniable thrill and just plain great visionary pop.