It would not be overstating things, to describe Kraftwerk as one of the most important bands in the history of music.

They practically invented electronic music – and their own instruments – creating a new and strange sound which has gone on to inspire entire scenes. Hip-hop, ambient, industrial, techno, house and electro-pop would all sound very different, and in some cases would not exist, without them.

For all that, though, they are secretive and enigmatic. It is not easy to see them live – and when they do, it is always in large venues – like the Royal Albert Hall, where they sold out three nights. So imagine how excited we were to find out the German electro-experimentalists were playing right here in Oxford, and in the incongruous setting of the New Theatre, with its rows of red velvet seats.

It all seemed surreal, compounded by stewards handing out red packets containing 3D glasses.

Ralf Hütter, Fritz Hilpert, Henning Schmitzand and Falk Grieffenhagen, all in identical suits, walked onstage to thunderous applause, taking their places behind their black boxes in a blaze of computer generated graphics projected on a giant screen behind the stage. Digits fill the screen as they launch into Numbers, from album Computer World.

It’s nearly 40 years old, but that robotic Speak-and-Spell vocal sounds futuristic and thrilling – with 3D graphics flying over our heads.

The tunes come thick and fast, with no banter to break the flow, nor offer any hint of human warmth. We wouldn’t expect nor want it.

The Computer World ‘suite’ continues with It’s More Fun to Compute and Computer Love, then it’s back to self-defining The Man-Machine.

There are cheers of recognition for The Model – those bouncy synths, the closest they get to pure pop, accompanied by retro glamour shots.

After the dreamy Neon Lights, they put the foot down for anther anthem – Autobahn. It is minimalist electronica at its very finest, which reaches its apotheosis with Geiger Counter and Radioactivity – sublime, ambient, dreamy and soaring. There is more fusing of tracks with Tour de France, another mini-symphony celebrating their love of cycling; the perfect metaphor for ‘man machine’, perhaps.

Back to German engineering with Trans Europe Express / Metal auf Metal and Abzug – simplistic, repetitive and beautiful, especially in that synthesised doppler effect as the train flies past.

They leave, but not for long, the curtain coming up not on the band but on four robotic representations – plastic faces and red shirts, for a run through of Robots, of course. We love it.

A second encore seems them return in illuminated suits for another cycling homage, Aéro Dynamik, followed by Planet of Visions – their re-boot of Expo 2000 and a closing Electric Cafe section of Boing Boom Tschak, Techno Pop and Musique Non Stop .

Yet, sadly it did have to stop; ‘Ordnung muss sein’.

We left, buzzing and battered at the sensory over-stimulation.

The ‘men-machine’ have been doing this since the 70s but still sound like they are from the future – and remain masters of a genre they invented and own.

Oxford has never seen the likes of it before, and is unlikely to again. History.