March 1st 2012
From the moment Rammstein enter the packed arena as a torchlight parade from the back and then slowly walk over a specially constructed bride over the audience for a slow, tension building ten minutes, you know you are onto something very special.
This is a show like no other.
You know the drill, fire- lots of it, exploding cocks spraying the crowd with soapy semen, explosions, anal sex, bondage, S and M, huge cavernous anthems, a rubber dingy crowd surfing, stomping beats and a greatest hits set- it’s impossible to decide whether it’s hilarious or dark but it’s total entertainment- a trip into the dark heart of Europe, a technoid Grimm fairy tale and mind blowing gasoline guzzling entertainment.
So many bands attempt this theatrical stuff and so many fail but then Rammstein are smarter than most bands. Everything has a sub text, a reason- they toy with darkness and throw it back in your face with a leer, they exaggerate every clichÃÂ© of Germany and stomp it across the stage, they tinker with the grubby claw of censorship- baiting the prudes with sex and violence and blow them up into huge set pieces. Their music reflects the darkness that is the undertow of the 21st century and they then get the whole arena to sing along in German.
And all the time there is the music- perfect songs- deliciously heavy with the twin guitars cranking up the marshal riffs nailing down the gothic uber beat. There is the clank and grind of industrial and the huge swooping melancholic Wagnerian keyboards- there is much sadness and beauty swooping around inside the music- like some sort of high octane opera. Their roots lie in the dark side- the early nineties post berlin Wall crossover of Goth, metal, industrial and techno and the hard, synthesizer based music of bands like KMFDM referred to as “EBM,” for “electronic body music”.
They mash together industrial, metal, gonzoid punk, techno and trance into a seamless modern whole, when people talk of music being retro and nothing new getting made they haven’t even bothered with bands like Rammstein who sound like nothing else.
The arena is in meltdown, quite literally, the fire is face melting hot, and astonishingly the theatrics never dominate the music because that’s so powerful that it always cuts through. They stick keyboard player Flake Lorenz into a cooking pot and douse him with flames, frontman Till Lindemann, whose excellent vocals are a real key to the bands sound from his rolling ‘rrrrs’ crooning to rock grunt- stalks the stage dressed as a blood stained butcher, they fire rockets from their headgear, blow fire into the audience and never drop a beat.
Here we are at yet another packed arena rock gig from one of Europe’s biggest bands, it’s heaving in here- recent arena gigs from the likes of Bob Dylan have been half full but Rammstein go beyond the cutting recession and are operating beyond, well everything.
They say rock is dead and this is the era of the boy band but somehow Rammstein are one of the biggest bands in Europe, selling out arenas across the continent with almost zero radio play and virtually no mainstream press. I’m astonished to the Guardian here covering the gig- it’s rare to see them out of the indie comfort zone- it’s baffling how big this band is and yet alternative radio like XFM and 6music never plays them like they hardly ever play any rock music shunting it to ”Ëspecialist ”Ë shows when it’s one of the biggest genres of music in the UK.
Despite all this the venue is rammed, Rammstein rammed, packed tighter that Flake’s butt when Landesmann fucks him on the stage with a dildo meanwhile the band sound is astonishing and they are at the height of their game, waltzing across Europe imperious dealing out their gigantic noise beyond the fringes.
The set ends with a great version of their classic ”ËEngel’, Till has the flame covered angel wings on and the set resembles the darkest HR Giger painting of some sort of filth encrusted metropolis, Rammstein exit the stage leaving a stunned audience. It’s like watching the darkest sci fi film come to life and says everything and nothing all at once and is currently one of the best live shows in the world.