To the uninitiated, seeing 4 men dressed in TRON suits, standing at tables looking like they are working on their taxes would have the equivalent excitement factor of watching them eat soup from afar.
Add graphics made by what seems like a 486DX Windows 95 machine, and they would wonder what the fuss was all about.
Ralf Hütter (founding member), Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert, Falk Grieffenhagen took the stage in the order from left to right, from our perspective.
Is this a Math lesson as Numbers starts the evening in song and visuals with numbers jumping off the screen?
What we were in fact seeing, was the band that gave birth to much of the modern music we have come to love.
We would not have New Order, or Depeche Mode and all the other Synth-Pop & Post Punk bands if it wasn’t for Kraftwerk.
EDM in all its forms would not be pounding synthesized beats making people dance into the wee hours of the night…or better yet, morning, without their pioneering spirit.
Even Hip-Hop can trace its birth to Kraftwerk, due to Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force sampling Trans-Europe Express, without permission of course.
What we saw was both retro and futuristic at the same time.
Retro, using 3D technology that has been around since 1920 with the now lost movie The Power of Love.
Futuristic, somehow making me think that Kraftwerk may have been a good choice for TRON: Legacy, instead of another band heavily influenced by Kraftwerk, Daft Punk.
It’s no wonder that the audience was comprised mostly of older fans, yet many parents shared this experience with their children and teens.
Props to the young man in row J, in front of me, who sported a red button-down shirt and dress pants like the cover of Man-Machine.
The next few songs were all about computers.
I remember buying the vinyl for Electric Café, back in 1986 and being amazed at the computer-generated singing.
I loved the visuals for Spacelab, but the crowd went nuts when a map view showed a marker on Montreal. The spaceship then visited the Montreal skyline before landing in Place des Spectacles.
I could help notice how much we felt the bass for The Man-Machine.
My personal highlights were hearing The Model, which took me back to my Thunderdome days.
The biggest crowd reaction was for Tour de France.
Ralf Hütter was a cycling fan, often being dropped off 100 miles away from the next venue on tour, so he could cycle to it. Even after being in cycling accident that resulted in a coma, he was undeterred and his first question upon waking was: “Where is my bicycle?”
Next was Trans-Europe Express/Metal on Metal/Abzug to end the set.
Big hits of nostalgia were felt by the packed Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, a room dedicated to another pioneer of the local music scene who established the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
While Wilfrid brought together a group of people to play music, Kraftwerk used synths like the Minimoog to create an orchestra of digital layers.
For the encore, you could see the screens move in the dark to reveal 4 red dots of light, as the crowd recognized that the next song, The Robots/Robotronik would be sung by actual robots.
The band would eventually return with Planet of Visions, and songs about calculators, delighting all Math nerds. I did pretty well in Math, so is it a coincidence that my actual business is in IT?
The last song started mellow with Non Stop but really kicked it up a notch with Boing Boom Tschak ending with Music Non Stop.
The music eventually stopped as one member after another, starting with Falk Grieffenhagen walked to the side of stage, took a bow, and left into the darkness.
Fritz Hilpert was next, followed by Henning Schmitz, each doing a small solo before their exit.
Last by not least was one of the founding members, Ralf Hütter who touched his heart to show his appreciation for the reception he received in Montreal.
Although the band had absolutely no words for the audience, they let the beat, and the rich sounds speak for themselves. That last gesture echoed the crowd’s feelings who reciprocated the love to a band that are considered Godfathers of modern music.
Attending was an offer we simply couldn’t refuse.
Photos – Kieron Yates
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today Music Business Jam Session for musicians. Randal is a collector of signed vinyl, cassettes and CDs.