Revisit the footage of one of the first-ever Kraftwerk shows, 1970
“Music is about intensity… the rest is just noise.” —Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter.
As we mourn the passing of Florian Schneider, a founding member of Kraftwerk, we’re taking a look back to a moment in history, that one could argue changed the face of music for all time. It is, of course, a moment Kraftwerk, the pioneering Kings of electronic music, will always think of fondly.
It’s fair to say that Kraftwerk are one of those bands who exist in their own stratosphere. They do so because they refuse to be artistically caged by genre or categorisation—the band champion innovation beyond normality and never satisfied an outlandish appetite for art.
It’s fair to say Kraftwerk are more unique than certainly any band before them and almost certainly any band after them. Whether it is their dedication to telling fans how to make their music on a calculator, or indeed their 40-minute jazz interpretation of their mega-album Autobahn—the band are one unto their own.
Nowhere is this more plainly obvious than in their incendiary live performance which hinges on their otherworldly appearance and their computerised personalities. Unlike any other band, Kraftwerk have built themselves an unshakable niche with their live shows. It’s a performance unlike any other and we think we may have unearthed the beginnings of it.
The video below was shot only six months after the band’s inception. It features Ralf Hütter on keyboards, the late, great Florian Schneider-Esleben on his electrified flute (vibing hard) and Klaus Dinger on drums. The nucleus of the band who would change so much around them as they evolved. It sees the group evoke a new sound and perpetuate a new way of challenging the norm.
It’s a mesmeric performance, not least because of the music but because this is the beginning of one of the most innovative bands the world has ever seen. It’s something that is written across the face of every audience member too, as they try to decipher and digest exactly what is going on here. The consternation on their faces may please us but we can’t imagine the delight it brought to Hutter and Schneider as they enacted their digitalised vision of the future of rock and roll.
It is on that very consternation which Kraftwerk thrive. The moment between misunderstanding and adoration, the blank spaces of the Venn diagram. Kraftwerk were always innovators and here’s the proof.