The 1970s German band Neu! is no more, but Hallogallo 2010 is almost the real thing. The one surviving member of the original duo, Michael Rother, is touring America for the first time in ages, playing the mesmerizing, driving instrumental music he recorded three decades ago in Neu!, along with some of his solo music. One of those old Neu! songs is called “Hallogallo,” and the name of this new touring band is Hallogallo 2010. It’s Rother plus Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Tall Firs bassist Aaron Mullan.
Shelley and Mullan played their roles perfectly Wednesday, Sept. 8, at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, duplicating the tight, almost mechanical rhythms that Neu! pioneered. That beat that became known as “Motorik,” German for “motor skill.” Going through my photos from the concert, I noticed how happy Shelley looked as he did his part. Together, Shelley and Mullan were a pulsing machine. Rother played electric guitar, keyboards and electronic devices on top of that rhythmic foundation. It was minimalist, focused music, with twitchy energy.