Buying a ticket to see German industrial hard rockers Rammstein seemed like a good idea at the time, and then afterwards I started to have a few hesitations, as the fans give over a certain image being a fairly hard & intense crowd, and though I’ve survived Iron Maiden and Prodigy gigs before, I really started to wonder whether this might be a bit “next level”.
Turns out it was, but for entirely different reasons.
As it happened, I didn’t find a taker for my second ticket, so I did some neat dealing with Brett the Dodgy Aussie and found myself perched in an excellent spot in the upstairs seated section. Of course it meant having to catch up with Brettles, but I figured it’d only be for an hour or so before the gig, so it wasn’t too much of an imposition…
The gig was one massive spectacle from end to end – the band’s entry on to the stage had suggestions of Pink Floyd’s The Wall concert about it, although by way of extra-mile, singer Till Lindemann’s entrance involved cutting through a metal plate with a gas axe. I’m aware that this band’s genre is sometimes described as “industrial” – they out industrialled industry here. Well, other than metalworking industries. They probably get it all the time.
The music was – as expected – all in German, meaning that I didn’t have much idea what was specifically being sung about for a large part of the night. My german language skills are useful for ordering 3 beers and asking where the frog throwing competition is, but that’s about the extent of it. Even without the benefit of linguistic comprehension though, you could tell that whatever they were on about, they really meant it. Till’s standard position was in a sort of wide stance at the front of stage, where he’d rhythmically pound his fist against his thigh and whip his head from side to side.
Another thing I’d been forewarned about was the excellence and calibre of “the show” – it’s often a comment made about concerts, and I think my earliest memory of being aware of this was listening to Orge & Spiro talking about how amazing the Michael Jackson gig they went to was all the way back in high school. One of the components of “the show” sometimes mentioned is fireworks – this is something which I’d yet to be overwhelmed by. We had jets of flame shooting into the air at the Roger Waters gig in Hyde Park, but it all seemed a little peripheral… I can’t recall being that excited by anything on stage, and it never seemed to amount to much more than a few flashpots of varying sizes. But then along came Rammstein.
Oh. Mein. Gott.
It would be safe to say without fear of contradiction: these guys don’t f*ck about.
The brutish pounding music continued awesomely and a range of visual spectacle took place – and just when it seemed they couldn’t go any further over the top, they did. The catchy little summertime hit “Feuer Frei!” was accompanied with the band donning cone-shaped masks, and then belching plumes of flame into the air. And from our vantage point, I was able to capture it quite well, I thought:
What was especially cool was that they kept playing throughout.
Further mad stuff took place, including exploding babies with green lasers coming out of their eyes, and the bit with the bathtub. Probably the bit which I found most memorable though was Benzin.
Fairly clearly, it was something to do with petrol. Again, not sure what. However it didn’t seem to much of a stretch of comprehension that given their demonstrated affection for fire, and a song about petrol, that their might be some sort of symbolic interplay between the two. As predicted, Till took hold of the petrol pump on stage and it transpired that it was in fact a stylised flamethrower. I wasn’t expecting the next bit though:
You wouldn’t get that at a Roger Waters gig. Probably just as well, given his temprament.
There’s only so much one can write about a gig at which one doesn’t really understand the content, however I can say with certainty that it was relentlessly and continuously awesome. The weird stuff didn’t cease, with the expected rendition of chart hit “Du Hast“, and a finale of Till sitting astride a giant foam cannon and coating the front quarter of the auditorium with a blanket of the stuff. Oh, and filling the front of the venue with tickertape confetti. But still the crowd cheered, and in the landmark bit of band/crowd interaction I’ve yet seen, Kristian the keyboardist boarded a rubber dinghy & crowdsurfed his way around Wembley Arena!
In honesty I’d have been happy with that lot, but the teutonic marauders weren’t done with us yet, and amid a smoke-filled stage Lindemann appeared wearing a massive set of metallic angel wings and launched into another song, filling the venue with his sonorous baritone. But being Rammstein wings, they naturally came fitted with jets of flame that shot out of the tips.
Some gigs you come away from thinking “Was that really worth £40?”. This was not one of them. Just brilliant. And again – no idea what half of it meant, although I’ve got the impression that they’re not the hard & serious maniacs I’d taken them for initially. Whilst not trying to be silly, I’m led to believe that they’re using a particularly German type of humour, and their songs often contain clever wordplay. Really angry sounding wordplay. So, maybe before the next tour they do I’ll have to get some language lessons in, eh?
(The rest of my photos are in my Rammstein Flickr Gallery and there’s a couple more videos on my Youtube Channel – although if I’d had any idea what was gonna go down I might’ve cleared my memory card off beforehand. Then again, it’d be nice just to watch the gig, too.)