Kraftwerk Newcastle Mayfair 1975 and Newcastle City Hall 1981

Kraftwerk Newcastle Mayfair 1976 and Newcastle City Hall 1981
kraftwerk I saw Kraftwerk twice. The first occasion was in 1975 when they were on tour in the UK in support of their Radio-Activity album. I’d heard Autobahn, which reached No 11 in the UK charts in 1975, but didn’t know anything else by the band. I found the gig quite strange. First it took place at Newcastle Mayfair on a Friday night. Now Friday night at the Mayfair in the mid 70s was a heavy metal stronghold, and host to gigs by the likes of Thin Lizzy, UFO, and Judas Priest. So Kraftwerk were a bit of an off the wall proposition for the venue, to say the least. Most of the heavy rock fans stayed away and the ballroom was quite empty for the visit by the German rockers who stood, statue-like at their (then) futurist computer terminals at the front of the stage, making strange robotic moves and playing their electronic rhythms. It was quite a bizarre affair, and most of the crowd were having a drink and ignoring the band. And the band themselves stood and sang without any emotion, all dressed in the same sick and dark clothing. Marie and I found it fascinating, and we didn’t realise at the time just how influential this band were going to be. The core line-up for the band that I saw on both occasions was Ralf Hütter on vocals, synthesizer, orchestron, synthanorma-sequenzer, and various strange electronics; Florian Schneider on vocals, vocoder, votrax, and synthesizer and Karl Bartos on electronic percussion. Setlist from 1975: Kling Klang; Tongebirge; Tanzmusik; Ruckzuck; Prolog Im Himmel / Kometenmelodie 1; Die Sonne, Der Monde, Die Sterne; Kometenmelodie 2; Mitternacht / Showroom Dummies; Autobahn. Authobahn was, of course, the only song which I recognised. So we left the gig intrigued, but by no means knocked out, by the band.  Support for the 1975 Autobahn tour was folk singer AJ Webber, who is recorded as saying: “They weren’t the easiest people to talk to, probably due to the language barrier. But they were polite and reasonably welcoming. They drew a certain ‘following’! We warmed to each other as the tour went on.”
Roll forward six years to 1981, and Kraftwerk were back in the UK, touring in support of their Computer World album. The tour was entitled The Calculator tour. By now the band were hailed as great innovators and they were the new darlings of the rock scene. The City Hall concert drew a respectable crowd, but it wasn’t by any means a sell-out. This time the band brought all of the electronic technology from their studio and took it out on the road. The show also had a substantial visual element, using back-projection of slides and films, synchronised with the music, They had some hand-held miniature instruments, and replica mannequins of themselves. This was much more a show, which I enjoyed, although I must admit that I remained unfamiliar with much of their music, and hence found some of the concert quite heavy going. Setlist 1981: Computerwelt; Home Computer; Computer Love; The Model; Neonlicht; Radioaktivität; Die Stimme der Energie; Ohm Sweet Ohm; Autobahn; The Hall of Mirrors; Trans-American; Trans-Europe Express.  I don’t recall as to whether there was any support for the 1981 concert. I haven’t seen Kraftwerk since those days, although I keep meaning to do so; its about time I caught them again.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chad on August 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Interesting.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Andrew Forster on November 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

    I was there, the whole show’s on Youtube. I remember they invited people to come to the front of the stage to play on a pocket calculator/ keyboard.
    Don’t think you can call them rockers, they weren’t exactly the Scorpoions 🙂 More like techno-pioneers.

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on November 6, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      Yes Andrew we were lucky to see the 1st tour of this pioneering band, indeed I think this was their 1st ever date in the UK. Happy days Peter

      Reply

  3. Posted by J.T. on May 10, 2021 at 4:58 am

    Any other details about the 1975 concert you remember. I’m very interested in their UK 1975 tour

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on May 10, 2021 at 11:29 am

      Hi JT

      I’m afraid I remember little more. What is your specific interest and I will see if I can help

      Best wishes Peter

      Reply

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