I Kraftwerk possono essere a buon titolo considerati i “i padri di tutte le musiche elettroniche” (magari insieme ai Tangerine Dreams…) da 40 anni a questa parte…

Il gruppo, di origine tedesca, formatosi a Dusseldorf nel 1970, era già un pò conoscituo in certi ambienti, ma questi strani musicisti che si muovevano come robots e che “emettevano” strani suoni sarebbero stati i precursori di una moltitudine di genere musicali. Non a caso Il MOMA ( Museum Of Modern Arts) di New York ha dedicato loro nel 2012, la prima “esposizione vivente” delle loro storia.

Nel 1976 vivevo a Londra e, conoscendoli, non potevo perdere la loro esibizione di “Authoban” e “Trans Europe Express” alla mitica Roundhouse. Certamente un mito musicale.







Queste e/o altre foto musicali nel libro - These photos and/or other ones about music are in the book


testi e fotografie
di Rita Tunes & Enrico Pelos

Enrico Pelos editore, Genova
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Kraftwerk can be rightfully considered the “fathers of all electronic musics” (perhaps together with Tangerine Dreams…) for more than 40 years now …

The group of German origin, formed in 1970 in Dusseldorf , was already a little known in certain environments, but these strange musicians that they did move like robots and “emitting” strange sounds were the forerunners of a multitude of musical genres. It is not a case that the MOMA (Museum Of Modern Art) in New York is dedicating to them the first “living exhibition” of their history …

In 1976 I was living in London and, knowing them, I would not miss their performance of di “Authoban” and “Trans Europe Express” at the legendary Roundhouse. Certainly a musical myth.

The following is an excerpt from an interesting research about the use of backslide projection during their concerts from Andréas, a friend from Goteborg, Sweden. The audience feelings during their concerts are well described here.

After the massive tour of 1975 Kraftwerk just did a few concerts in 1976. There is only about 20 known concerts from 1976 and most of them were performed in France, The Neatherlands and the UK.
The slides on these concerts were projected on a backdrop behind the band. Unlike the later tours, these were static slide images and not animated filmclips.

In an interview in the american magazin Synapse from 1976 Ralf say:
”We´ve worked three or four years with Emil Schult. He is a graduate of the Düsseldorf Art Acadamy. We work together on the composition of lyrics, poetry, sound poetry, and also visually. He does album covers and things we discuss together and work at together, but he´s the one who does this actually. And also, projection of pictures. It´s not a light show but it´s rather static… sound paintings, we call them sound paintings.”

When did Kraftwerk start using slides?
There are many indications Kraftwerk started using slide projections during the tour of 1975. It seems however that they just used it on some concerts and that it was used more frequently on the later European part of the tour than it was in the US. For example in the german magazine Bravo nr 24, 1975 there is a text about the concert in the Beacon Theatre in New York on the 5th of April the same year and it doesn't mention anything about projected images but it do say:

"... Kraftwerk dont care when it comes to stage effects. The music is exclusivly in the center." - my own translation

And Todd Tolces review in Melody Maker of the concert in Berkeley, California on the 11th of May 1975 doesn't mention any slides either but say:

"Using only flourescent and black lights at their feet and their own names lit in neon in front of them to light the stage, the Kraftwerk regalia in general was cold, even to the point of being perverse."

In an interview made by Karl Dallas in Melody Maker 27 sept 1975 he describe one of Kraftwerks first British concerts like this:

"Like both Tangerine Dream and Faust, Kraftwerk begin their concerts in semi-darkness. But as they play, a series of static messages are flashed at the audience. The names of the four members of the band are flashed up in neon in front of each of them: Rolf (through out the whole interview Ralf is called Rolf) at the left on keyboard, Wolgang and Karl in the middle on electronic drums... ...and, on the right, Florian, on a sort of electronic woodwind, driven by a machine which makes a gentle, rather melancholy continous sigh that is audible between numbers.
A slide is focused on a slightly billowing backdrop.
A semi-circular railing of flourescent lights comes on from time to time, sometimes white and harsh, sometimes red and warm, always backlighting the four figures crouched over their instruments, hardly moving.
I asked if they hadn´t thought of using less static images, movies perhaps, or video.
"We only use the visuals as a framework" said Florian. "Its like the movie stills you see outside a cinema. When you see the movie you get the whole idea. We want merely to give clues to the audience and leave space in their minds for their own ideas of what the music is saying."

In this quote there are proofs that Kraftywerk at least used one slide during this concert in september 1975 in the Uk. But since the texts is somewhat vague you could also read it as if they showed different static slides during the concert. So maybe Kraftwerk started using the slides first when they came back to Europe after the American tour or perhaps even on some of the concerts on the American tour.

PHOTO IS THE ONLY LIVE PHOTAGE FROM THE CONCERTS OF 1975-76 KRAFTWERK HAS EVER RELEASED OFFICIALY. (and in this respect my photos are almost unique, note of photos author)

The Setlist in 1976
The songs played during the 1976 concerts propably varied alot.There are only three known recorded concert. One is just a part of a concert recorded by French Radio in Paris on the 28th of february at "l'Olympia" where they played:
Faust intro - kometenmelodie 1 - kometenmelodie 2 - Tongebirge - Tanzmusik - ruckzuck

One is a recording from the venue Paradiso in Amsterdam on the 11th of September where the setlist looked like this:
Heute abend...- europe endless - faust intro - kometenmelodie 1 & 2 - radioactivity - airwaves - the voice of energy - radio Stars - die sonne, der mond, die sterne - ohm sweet ohm - trans europe express - tongebirge - autobahn

And the last is a recording from the Roundhouse (this one, note of photos author) in London on the 10th of October where the setlist looked like this:
kometenmelodie 2 - europe endless - geiger counter - radioactivity - airwaves - the voice of energy - radio stars - die sonne, der mond, die sterne - ohm sweet ohm - trans europe express - tongebirge - autobahn
(not recorded; Showroom Dummies played as encore)

The Outfits & Stage
On most of the photos from 1974-76 Ralf and Florian are wearing grey suits and Flür and Bartos in black suits. But it doesnt seem to be a rigid dresscode like the one they adapt later.
"They wear severe suits, white shirts, ties, the only concession to in formality being the blazer and white jeans worn by Florian, which gave him an atmosphere of Lords or Henley between the wars, rather than a rock musician." - Karl Dallas, Melody Maker 27sept, 1975.

During some of the concerts during this time they used an electronic percussion device triggered by body movements. This photo-electric triggered instrument was operated by Wolfgang or Karl and looked like a big metalframed cube.
This instrument is reported being used during the fall of 1976 for example on the concert on The Roundhouse in London. "...they do offer some innovation and creativity in performance - like using photo-electric switches to control percussion sounds." - Dave Fudger, Sounds 16 October 1976.

The neon-light name boxes were on display on all the concerts. The floor level multicoloured strip light panels seems to have been used quite often but not allways as seen on the photos from Enrico Pelos in London.

Here is the full research by Andréas Hagström for which I thank for the courtesy of publication.

Fotografie da originali su diapositiva Kodak Ektachrome eseguite con Nikon, obiettivi Nikkor e scanner Nikon.

Photographs from original Kodak Ektachrome slide film made with Nikon, Nikkor lenses and Nikon scanner.

(published 2012 April 24th - translation by enrico pelos)

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