Are Kraftwerk the most influential group in pop history?
Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark thinks so. “People always go back to how the American blues was lifted by the British and turned into pop in the Sixties, but that was a long time ago, and its reign was 20 or 30 years,” the electro pop veteran enthuses. “When you listen to pop now, do you hear the Beatles, or do you hear electronic, synthetic, computer-based grooves?”
McCluskey has the excitability of a particularly zealous acolyte. He can not only tell you the time and place he first saw Kraftwerk (“September 11 1975 at the Liverpool Empire”) but where he was sitting (“Seat Q36”). “It was the height of long hair, flared denim and lead guitar solos, and they came out looking like four bank clerks with electronic knitting needles and tea trays. It was like an alien spaceship had landed.” Kraftwerk arrive at Tate Modern next week, taking over the vast, industrial art gallery to play eight classic albums over nine days, wearing neoprene neon suits and backed with 3D film versions of their iconic visuals. When tickets went on sale in December, the demand crashed the gallery’s website.
Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the German quartet’s first British tour.