Kraftwerk, Manchester Velodrome

The words "Hiroshima" and "Sellafield" being literally pumped out of a screen at you whilst four could-be-robots syncopate noises on a stage is a sight of terrifying genius.

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Date: 3 Jul 2009 | By Martin Guttridge-Hewitt | Rating: 4
Kraftwerk, Manchester Velodrome

After the ambience of Steve Reich's slowly building melodic warm-up, the anticipation and heat in the Manchester Velodrome has risen to almost unbearable levels as the electro pioneers begin to emit bleeps and squeaks from behind a curtain. As it opens on the four most famous silhouettes in electronic music, the immediately recognisable beats of 'The Man Machine' ring out, and so begins an awesome two hours of audio and visual futurist entertainment from Kraftwerk.

The roar of the crowd that meets the beginning of 'Tour de France' is only topped by what many will see as the defining moment of this year's festival, with members of the British Olympic cycling team lapping the crowd as the pace changes from downbeat break to rolling 4-4 trance. With the crowd on their feet, and the riders showing off their 'look no hands' skills to lead the applause you really can't help feeling that this is a once in a lifetime sight.

As if marking the progression of transport itself, mere seconds divides the bicycle ode from 'Autobahn', the robotic euphoria being underpinned by archive footage of the motoring hey-day. By this time anyone not grinning from ear to ear is either blind or deaf. The 3-D glasses handed out to the crowd on entry are put to use in the last 45 minutes, not least with 'Radioactivity'. The words "Hiroshima" and "Sellafield" being literally pumped out of a screen at you whilst four could-be-robots syncopate noises on a stage is a sight of terrifying genius. 'Vitamin' equally utilises this, with pills of all shapes floating out over the arena, tempting you to reach out before someone else grabbed them.

Needless to say, the music and sound system are equally mastered; the former is faultless to the point of being unnatural, the latter something controlled by the band themselves, and therefore having to pass their quality control test. No mean feat. As the standing ovation continues it's hard to believe that it all lasted so long, and was so simple yet completely engaging. It's just a shame it could be years before they're in town again.