Review :: Nite Jewel & Peanut Butter Wolf do Kraftwerk

February 1st 2013

Nite Jewel & Peanut Butter Wolf 
Performing Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’
The Famous Spiegeltent – January 27 


Sunday night can be such a sombre moment in the average Sydneysider’s weekly cycle. For some, the thought of Monday morning’s joys can make the whole evening one giant sigh. Pouring a glass of red makes it easier to sink into the essential pre-bedtime nap, and some dumb television does nothing to keep heavy-lidded eyes from kick-starting the brain’s dreamweaver.

Yet this particular Sunday was different. It spelled the end of the Sydney Festival – one last dazzling flourish of creativity before life went back to regular programming. Tonight, Kraftwerk’s 1982 Computer World album would be seen from new perspectives in the mirrored Spiegeltent. Peanut Butter Wolf would don a wig of flowing ebony hair and have people call him Folerio, while Nite Jewel would fuse her soul with her synthesiser, the two musical deviants exploring and reinterpreting that which seems impossible to refine.

A warm hum of anticipation rose from those queuing outside the venue, counteracting the city’s own reaction to the night – Sydney wept fat sloppy tears. They fell from the heavens all the way to Hyde Park, sizzling against the crowd’s spirit. Once inside, it wasn’t long before Bridezilla’s Holiday Sidewinder emerged through a flap at the back of the tent, alongside a typically impish looking Kirin J. Callanin. The oft-frontman conjured up a sea of reverb-soaked guitar that jangled for days, leaving Holiday Sidewinder to part the water. “Take me to the water blue,” she sang. Somewhere between a howl and a croon, her voice pulled the rest of her body forwards though the aural ocean. All the while the energy of those in attendance continued to emanate warmth, heating the sea and providing a true warm-up for the main event.

Slinking out onto the stage after an introduction from Nite Jewel, a moustachioed Peanut Butter Wolf hides his face under saucer-sized sunglasses. Wordlessly, he begins. Many digital gadgets from various eras of electronic music clutter his performance space. He strikes them methodically, thriving in the minimalist nature of the music. Under the sunglasses, his face is another layer of disguise – an emotionless mask leaving nothing but the music to speak to the people in front of him. Despite all this, the pleasure he takes in the performance is palpable, especially as more and more of the spectators start jerking their bodies.

Nowadays, few people can hear ‘Computer Love’ without thinking of Coldplay’s ‘Talk’. But as Nite Jewel and Peanut Butter Wolf conjured up their own little universe within the Spiegeltent on such an uncommonly special Sunday night, it was hard to deny the timelessness of Kraftwerk’s original. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the disco pop songstress in Nite Jewel is a big fan. She told the crowd, “it’s my favourite song,” before burying herself within the music, briefly resurfacing only to smile in an otherwise serious set.

The track – and in fact the whole night – had the audience entranced, but in two minds. One could either let your feet give in to the simple, robotic pleasures of minimalist electronic pop; or force your mind to process the method of performance alongside the progression of the album. When the album did finish and all of this was forgotten, to not dance in the encore was to leave one’s self unsatisfied. Needless to say, not a single set of feet left that tent disappointed.

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