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Sound of Silence

Michael Rother

Michael Rother, once of Kraftwerk and the founder member of Neu!, was a special guest at the Betfred World Championship last year and spoke about his love of the green baize sport.

Innovators and pioneers of electronic music, Kraftwerk were one of the most influential bands of the 1970s and had hits with songs like The Robots and Pocket Calculator.

Rother was invited to the tournament by Steve Davis, the six time World Champion who has developed a second career as a techno DJ since putting away his cue.

The Crucible is renowned for its ambience and it is the site of pilgrimage for the sport’s fans from around the globe. So it was fitting that this was the venue for Rother’s first experience of live snooker.

Unlike football or rugby matches which are played out against a wall of noise, snooker’s intense atmosphere is created by long periods of virtual silence, permeated only by the soft click-clacking of the balls, and the occasional burst of applause which follows a century break or spectacular shot.

“It was amazing,” said Rother after spending a day at the Crucible, in between concerts in Leeds and Nottingham. “I have watched snooker on TV many times over the years, but it is such a different and more intense experience to be in the room with the players. I will never forget it.

“I love the quietness, the focus and the concentration. When I sit at home watching on TV I try to work out where the player will position the ball next in order to keep the break going. It’s a very pleasant feeling to just concentrate on that and have the feeling of leaving the world behind.

“The place where I live in the countryside, there is hardly any noise and that’s something I enjoy very much. To be able to hear birds, wind, water flowing, that’s what I love. I don’t even put on music at home. The absence of noise gives me a lot of pleasure. Of course I also spend time in big cities when I am on tour, but then I always really appreciate coming back to silence.

“When I’m playing music live I have to be focused so in a way that is similar to what a snooker player does. That’s where the two worlds meet. During a concert I need a lot of concentration because I am playing guitar while also taking care of the mixing, and hearing everything at the same time. But also, in music you allow yourself to be carried away by the moment and to be in contact with the audience.

“I was so happy to meet Steve Davis and to exchange a few thoughts, and we will stay in touch. I’ve heard good things about his DJ-ing.”

But Rother has no plans to follow Davis’s career path in reverse by trying his hand at snooker, adding: “I played a bit of pool and thought I was not too bad, but then when I tried snooker I realised it was much harder. It’s so much more demanding.”