PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2005, 12:00am




The crystalline brilliance of this music is immediately obvious: the purity of Kraftwerk's sound is unrivalled. The live element is apparent in the delirious crowds losing their minds to the fact that they are witnessing the four Teutonic pioneers in the flesh.

It doesn't happen often, after all: Florian Schneider and Ralph Hutter formed the band in 1969 and had proceeded to cut themselves off from the outside world, spending their days as cycling-obsessed recluses holed up in their Dusseldorf studio.

Then, in 2003, after hiring Fritz Hilpert and Henning Schmitz, they released their first new material in 17 years - Tour De France: Soundtracks.

The new tunes stand shoulder to shoulder with the classics on this 2004 world tour. The insanely detailed Electric Kardiogram - a song about a heart monitor - gets the blood pumping. And the sound of thousands of Japanese fans going wild to a song about a pocket calculator, meanwhile, makes the hair stand on end.

There's a soulful majesty here that other dance acts can only dream of invoking - with rock aesthetics. Neon Lights was recently added to U2's live set, while Coldplay pilfered Computer Love (shamefully absent here) for the standout track on X&Y.

Why is it so good? Perhaps it's the fact that, 36 years on, Kraftwerk remain an enigma. There's also nothing quite like being able to dance to the sound of somebody predicting your future.