The Krautrock pioneer Michael Rother returned to London for another Neu! anniversary show celebrating 50 years of the group playing with his band, with his 1970’s influential compositions which mixed flaring guitars with electronic experimentation. He was accompanied on guitar by his group formed of Franz Bargmann (guitar), Hans Lampe (drums) as well as his partner Vittoria Macaroni (backing vocals, electronics). The show was somewhat a repeat of the anniversary show last year.

They began their set on some of Neu’s best known compositions such as their ‘Neuschnee’ and ‘Isi’ singles from their eponymous debut album, the former with triumphant guitar streams and the latter like falling pyrotechnics with glockenspiel tones, performed by Rother with the help of his co-guitarist Bargmann. They then moved onto Rother’s other group, Harmonia, with ‘Vetaranissimo’, a live track on compilation ‘Live 1974’ which introduced more rhythm into the set with the oriental clatter of drums, Rother tweaking electronics, a sound that surely gave rise to the electronic dance genre with its techno beats reminiscent of CAN, as did ‘Maultrommel’.

Rother’s own solo material featured in the way of ‘Zyklodrom’ from his 1977 album ‘Flammende Herzen’, containing scaling guitar chords reminiscent of ‘Neuschnee’. The band then played another Harmonia song, ‘Deluxe (Immer Wieder)’ from the 1975 album of the same name, chugging beats with soft guitar strokes that built into longer, wizzing streams. In contrast, ‘Wiessensee’ had melancholy guitar, with the track’s harmonic mellowness accompanied by smashing beats. As usual, Rother finished the main set on ‘Negativland’, with Macabruni on vocals, however, these were not loud enough to be audible enough over the noise. The encore saw the group come back for three energising tracks that varied somewhat from their last UK show, featuring two more Harmonia songs, ‘Holta-Polta’, with Macabruni’s noisy electronics strangling out the guitar, and ‘Dino’ from their 1974 debut album.

03/02/24: Michael Rother @ Barbican, London.

Photos © Fernanda Bavaresco.

© Ayisha Khan.