“Hi I’m Chop (or mutters real life name) from Midlands Rocks. I should be on the media list?” Rustle of papers. “You are. Would you like standing or seating?” Result. At a Rammstein gig there could surely be only one response…
Still grinning profusely, it was time to venture to a suitable viewing point for openers Deathstars. From a band’s perspective, much as you wouldn’t want to follow Gojira, opening for Rammstein must be similarly daunting. Give them their due though, they stuck to their task well. Armed with occasional smoke plumes and minimal lighting they were on the back foot from the off. A slightly sludgy sound early on didn’t help either. That said, just over half an hour later they trooped off, mission accomplished as it were. If tonight’s headliners, Marilyn Manson, or Sisters Of Mercy are to your liking then chances are you’ll appreciate Deathstars. They walked into the lion’s den and ventured out the other side having enhanced their reputation, with their own headline tour imminent I suspect…
During Deathstars’ set I couldn’t help but scan the arena from time to time; checking out the attendance, anyone around I knew etc, but my gaze kept returning to an overhead gantry. ‘Now what’s that for?’ I mused. Wouldn’t be long before I found out. Having found a perfect viewing point just behind the mixing desk (to take all the stage show in, and not suffer from heat exhaustion from the relentless flame bursts) my choice of standing ticket came into its own throughout the next two hours’ events.
At 8.25pm by my ever reliable timepiece the house lights were cut and the mayhem was about to begin. Rousing, anthemic, music accompanied the descent of the aforementioned gantry. From a side entrance, a torch held aloft and banners either side of the band announced that Rammstein had arrived. Thoughts of trans-Atlantic late night boxing extravaganzas sprang to mind such was the over the top nature of the spectacle. A hydraulic platform raised to meet the now fully descended gantry and the band walked over the packed, and expectant, crowd to take to the main stage.
Fully ten minutes after the lights had dimmed they launched into opening track ‘Sonne’. After that introduction what else could they play? Crystal clear sound, performed note perfectly by the band and with the first of the evening’s flame bursts during the second chorus, it was clear that this was going to be a sensational performance. Actually, but for one musical blip, this was about as close to flawless as you can get, or indeed wish for. The main set finished at 9.50pm, by which time Rammstein had packed in all the hits you’d hope to hear, and assaulted the senses with a stage show that perhaps only Kiss, Motley Crue, or Manowar would even dare to attempt.
Highlights of the main set were numerous, and nearly deserving of a track by track analysis. ‘Mein Teil’ musically was nothing short of crushing, and got the full theatrics, with perennial whipping boy Flake grateful to be shielded by a cauldron as Till cooked him with two flame-throwers. ‘Mutter’ changed the pace well and the lengthy sparks shower was very eye catching. ‘Du Hast’ was arguably the best production of the entire set with pyros and flames galore. Then came Flake’s dinghy crowd surfing, complete with deliriously happy fan on board. Was he a stooge? Doubt it, as security seemed genuinely pissed off when the vessel finally returned to the stage. Curiously ‘Links’ was – if you’ll excuse the pun – the weakest link (minus Anne Robinson thankfully), with the first verse being all over the shop musically. Ironic, as it had received the most feverish reception of the night a bar or two in.
The gantry was re-deployed for the band’s final three songs which were played from the mixing desk, to create a ‘Rammstein in the round’ type effect. Genius. If the crowd hadn’t been going mad before, they certainly reached new levels of hysteria for this section. A return to the stage, a synchronised bow, and it was time to think ‘encore’. So far, so good; how could they possibly top that?
Playing a two part encore comprising of five songs will get most people on side! Kicking off with ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, ‘Amerika’, and ‘Ich Will’ would leave most happy, but then returning for ‘Engel’ (complete with those wings and flame-throwers/pyros) and ‘Pussy’ with the foam-spraying giant phallus was the final killer blow of yet another breathtaking Rammstein show.
Rammstein came and they certainly conquered. The sound engineers were clinical and the band took full advantage of it to devastating effect. Throw their tongue in cheek theatricality into the mix and you’ve got quite a potion. We may well have been witnessing this performance at the end of February, but it’s going to take a Herculean effort for anyone or anything to surpass this. Expect Rammstein to appear prominently in gig of the year lists later on in 2012.
And you can see Sean’s photos here: