Kraftwerk to play Manchester Velodrome on eve of Tour de France

Bicycle-obsessed group time cycling-themed performance to coincide with start of this year's Tour de France

by Rebecca McIlhone   May 12, 2009  

Kraftwerk TdF remix.jpg

Electronic wizards and bicycle fanatics Kraftwerk are expected to play songs from their album Tour de France in an appropriate setting this summer when they perform at the Manchester Velodrome just as the iconic race gets going across the Channel.

The German group, whose 1983 hit Tour de France has been used as the theme track for Tour de France coverage, will play at the cycling venue as part of the Manchester International Festival, which runs from July 2-19.

The bill says the group will play a two-hour set drawing on the entire Kraftwerk catalogue so unless they are feeling particularly cruel, it looks like fans can expect to hear at least some of the tracks from the 2003 album named after the grueling French bicycle race.

Kraftwerk members Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter are famously obsessed with bicycles and the 1983 song Tour de France was followed up in 2003 by an album of the same name featuring tracks such as Titanium, Aero Dynamik, Vitamin and what one Guardian columnist describes as “the hilariously deadpan Elektro Kardiogramm,” about a heart monitor.

Hutter and Schneider took up cycling in the 80s with Hutter taking his new passtime particularly seriously. It's said that at the height of his obsession he would jump off the tour bus and cycle the last 150km into the next town where the band was scheduled to perform.

Talking about the 1983 Tour de France EP, Hutter said: "The bicycle is already a musical instrument on its own. The noise of the bicycle chain, the pedal and gear mechanism, the breathing of the cyclist, we have incorporated all this into the Kraftwerk sound." Hutter suffered serious head injuries in a cycling accident near the Rhine Dam which left him in a coma for two days. His first words on waking were, reportedly, "Where's my bike?"

Unsurprisingly perhaps, when percussionists Flür and Bartos left the band in the 80s, cycling was cited as a major reason.

More recently the band teamed up with Hot Chip to remix two of the tracks, Aerodynamik and La Forme.

Catch Kraftwerk at the Manchester Velodrome on Thursday, July 2, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £35 and are available by calling: 0844 815 4961