Categorized | Live Reviews

Michael Rother – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (April 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 April 2017 by John Haylock

Together with the late Klaus Dinger ( 1946-2008 ), Michael Rother was one half of one of the most influential German rock groups Neu!.

I use the words rock and group in their loosest most flexible definition. Guitars and drums were involved but used in such a way as to severely undermine the strict confines of normality and indeed the listeners’ reality.

Prior to this Michael Rother and Dinger were briefly members of a formative Kraftwerk, that’s one hell of a CV… and it’s only 1974.

Michael Rother

Michael Rother

Under the guise of Neu! the duo utilised primitive electronica and studio experimentation to create puzzling and often exhilarating vistas of new sound. Together with fellow German musicians Can, these intrepid explorers put a landmine under pop and created a new uneasy listening. Their combined influential shadow still looms over much of contemporary music – a remarkable unintended consequence of music created over four decades ago.

Post Neu! Michael also involved himself with equally adventurous fellows, Harmonia, Cluster Brian Eno and Conny Plank and since then a regular feed of solo works, reflecting a more melodic side and latterly many eagerly consumed tour dates – one of which was at the fabulous Greenman Festival last August. His set there proved to be a belter. I should know, half my brain is still there.

Hence the anticipation levels on seeing him again were rather high. Certainly not looking his advanced years Rother is a self-effacing, grinning presence behind his silver laptop, commanding proceedings with  precision, his trademark treated guitar soaring above pulsating, pre-generated programmed rhythms.

The band comprise of an additional guitarist, the youngster of the trio, Franz Bargmann, and a most amazing drummer, Hanse Lampe, whose stamina and sheer devotion to the beating heart of this music is mesmeric. When they all kick in you can’t help but be swallowed up by the hypnotic swathes of joyous beats, especially when synced to the grainy multi-coloured slightly surreal imagery on the back projection.

In a ninety minute all instrumental set they rarely slowed down the pace. It was all busy busy.

Standouts were Watussi from the first Harmonia album and Flammende herzen from his debut solo album in 1977 , which Michael explained was only the second time they had played this one live.

Of course no one would have let him out of the building unless he played the two classic Neu! tracks Hallogallo and the incredible Negativland,which were duly nailed to perfection. Those motorik beats just pummeled the senses into submission. At one point ,after a particularly strenuous guitar solo, Rother screams ‘I’ve got blisters on my fingers’!

An absolutely tremendous evening of electronica from a visionary musician.

by John Haylock


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