Live Review
MICHAEL ROTHER AT THE BARBICAN
Michael Rother
The Barbican
London
21/10/10

Klaus Dinger has sadly passed away but in the Spring we were lucky enough to get Skype-ing with Michael Rother, who (along with producer Conrad Plank) created Neu! He promised these concerts would revisit the work of Neu! and Harmonia (his other, only slightly less brilliant band), leaving enough space for creative reinterpretation, and that is just what we got, although it would’ve fitted original Kosmiche intentions better if things had been more freeform and less song-based. Earlier material worked better as it’s these tracks that are minimalistic enough for Rother to freak-out to on guitar, creating three to five-layer live loops over which he improvises with a typically Teutonic sense of restraint and architectural flair.

Somehow ‘2010’ wouldn’t be in the title without pre-recorded material but thankfully this consists of revolving samples, tweaked obsessively by Rother, rather than any asinine backing-track. Sonic Youth’s cuddliest, Steve Shelley, and Tall Firs’ Aaron Mullan fill things out on drums and bass, and although the seated crowd was a drag, these three musicians play ambitiously enough to avoid any museum-piece feeling. Fourty years on, this ingeniously original, spontaneous music, powered by the energies of the sexual revolution, Vietnam, rock’n’roll and Holocaust guilt still sounds like the future.

By Edgar Smith

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Originally published in issue 23 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. November 2010