From the moment Michael Rother—the surviving member of the influential Krautrock duo Neu!, now performing under the moniker Hallogallo 2010—walked onstage and plugged his white Stratocaster into a long table full of effects, the capacity crowd at International House knew they were going to witness a rare moment in rock history. Along with Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums and Aaron Mullan of Tall Firs on bass, Rother did not let the audience down during their hour and 20-minute set.
Rather than merely try to re-create the music of Neu!, Rother and company took the music further, offering a vision of where the legendary duo’s music might have gone had personal and professional differences not conspired to end the band in the mid-’70s. The music combined all of Neu!’s magical elements: spacey and layered guitar, experimental sound textures, and the motorik beat of late, great drummer Klaus Dinger captured flawlessly by Shelley.
As Brian Eno famously once said: “There were three great beats in the ’70s—Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, James Brown’s funk, and Klaus Dinger’s Neu! beat.” On this night, those in attendance got as close to that Neu! beat as humanly possible. Still, after witnessing Michael Rother’s scintillating fretwork around the shifting speed of the motorik beat, it’s probably time to amend Eno’s quote and say that the beat could not stand out without Rother’s mesmerizing layers of guitar.
In the end, Hallogallo 2010 is not just a re-creation or celebration of the music of Neu!, but an expansion of Neu! It was hard to believe that this was only the fifth time the band has played together, as Shelley told fans after the show. We can only hope that this is the beginning of Hallogallo and not a loving tombstone for Neu!, because, the music is still as innovative and fresh as it was during the 1970s.
Time for a big Bang breakthrough?