They say “never meet your heroes..” Well I’ve met a few of mine. Some disappointed me, some saddened me, and some quite surprised me. May 2004, Tallinn, capital city of Estonia was the time and place. Having played for a local promoter and club owner there who I’ve known since my Ministry of Sound touring days, imagine my pleasure at being invited to DJ at the after party gig for some electronica band called, erm, Kraftwerk. They were playing a big live gig there as part of the world tour, subsequently to surface on DVD under the ‘Minimum – Maximum‘ title. I’d already seen them in London at Brixton Academy but here was my chance to not only see them again, but DJ for the band after the event.
Lucky enough to get a back stage pass, I was sat in a canteen area before the main gig when in walks Mr Ralf Hutter. Here was my idol: One of the two leading figures in the band that totally shaped my musical and production direction. The band whose music inspired me to abandon a ‘normal’ job/career and pursue this thing called electronic music. With a large amount of trepidation, and at a suitable moment, I walked towards him, apologized if I was disturbing him, but introduced myself as a long time fan and wished him a good set that evening. Ralf politely said ‘thank you’ and I quickly mentioned I would be DJ’ing at the after party later that evening. He again politely nodded and said something like “see you there..”
The after party gig was at a stylish lounge bar called Kaheksa. The place was full of Tallinn’s style and fashion cognoscenti, and a buzz was in the air in anticipation of the band’s arrival. With the ‘conspicuous by his absence‘ Florian Schneider not showing up, the man Hutter (along with Fritz Hilpert) entered the building. There was no aloofness about Hutter. He was not a robot. He was not ignoring people. The wave of back slappers, autograph hunters and hand shakers made an en masse surge towards him, and I think it took about 15 minutes before he even got to sit in his destination reserved seating area.
My set was due to start at midnight and last just one hour (there were 2 local DJ’s playing that night too). I’d chosen a retrospective pure 80′s electronica/alternative set with a large selection of tunes to plunder. It was fabulous. I had cool robots, funky freaks and arse wiggling head-nodders grooving to the electronica classics. In what seemed to be over in the wink of an eye, my set drew to a close. Whilst handing over to the next DJ and wrapping up my headphone cable, I looked up to Hutter to perhaps get a nodd of approval at my selection. I caught his eye and, to my surprise, he beckoned me over to join him. The next half hour was probably the most surreal moment in my life. I chatted with Ralf about the band, their music and production sensibilities, his passion for cycling.. all sorts. I’ll say it again: He wasn’t a robot. He was an ultra-intelligent, eloquent, multi-lingual artist who obviously enjoyed socialising and the company of the ‘bright young things’ I saw around him.
It all seems a blur now but I left the bar later, getting back to my hotel room sitting almost in disbelief at what had just happened, filled with euphoria, satisfaction, joy ‘n excitement – It took me bloody ages to get to sleep! The tracklisting for what I played is below, with an MP3 link of most of this set (recorded on minidisc that night). Open your ears and enjoy..
- No G.D.M. – Gina X
- Being Boiled – Human League
- Warm Leatherette – The Normal
- Memorabilia (ecstatic dancing) – Soft Cell
- Bostich – Yello
- Enola Gay – O.M.D.
- The Model – Kraftwerk
- Magic Fly – Space
- The Things That Dreams Are Made Of – Human League
- Showroom Dummies – Kraftwerk
- The Passenger – Iggy Pop
- Photographic – Depeche Mode
- Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag – Pigbag