Kraftwerk is a band so synonymous with modern music that it can sometimes be forgotten how incredibly pioneering they were both visually and musically to an audience during their early days.
One of the best ways to gauge their undeniable influence is attempting to trace some of their first steps into the mainstream with raw footage taken from early performances. The genuine reaction of the general public following the Kraftwerk’s appearance on German primetime TV tells a story of its own.
In 1980, the band were beginning to reach the heights their style and sound demanded and, as such, found themselves invited to perform on popular TV in their homeland of Germany. The group were on the TV show to promote their new single ‘Das Modell’ from their latest 1978 album Man Machine — a song which would later go on to define them as a band and inspire a generation.
‘Das Modell’ was written by musicians Ralf Hütter and Karl Bartos, with artist Emil Schult collaborating on the lyrics and featured on the band’s most prominent early album. Later reworked and translated into English this is where Kraftwerk began to stamp their mark on the world reaching number one in 1981 following its reissue and spending 21 weeks in the top 75.
However, with all the history of Kraftwerk in mind, some of the best footage in this clip is when the camera pans to the audience. When faced with a typically robotic performance, one that the band were famed for, the crowd seem at worst scared and at best a little confused. When you then add the extra visuals that Kraftwerk insisted upon you get a sense of the thought behind every single performance.
What is truly remarkable is the standard of sound they produce. Not only does the song still feel fresh and unaffected but it still feels future-proof—a testament to the band’s vision and skill.
See the performance, below.