There aren’t many bands I’ll shell out silly amounts of money for to see them live, but Rammstein are one of them. I’ve seen them five times previously over the past ten years, never been disappointed, always amazed and entertained, so when the “greatest hits” tour got announced there was no was I was missing it – no matter what the cost.
So cost swallowed, it was onto the gig – and my first visit to the Millenium Dome The O2. A cavernous place – part shopping/entertainment/food centre and part gig venue – surprisingly it is actually well laid out, has loads of space and is actually pretty clear about where to go, too. I’m not convinced it is the future of the gig venue – certainly not with the corporatisation of every single element of it – but it works very well for large events, that is for sure.
Not so good were support act Deathstars. Dwarfed by the main band’s setup behind them (hidden by a very large black curtain), their slick goth-bleepy-metal presumably pushes buttons for some people, but to us sounded dull, unimaginative and seemed to owe a heck of a debt to bands like Gothminister – except that Gothminister have better songs, and a sense of humour. Mercifully their set was over quickly, and it was perhaps telling that their shout-out to Rammstein got a bigger cheer than their set did.
But then, there aren’t many – or perhaps any – live bands quite like Rammstein. Yeah, so there are quite a few industrial-metal bands that sound great live, and a few bands that use the odd stage prop, or the odd jet of flame, but there are none that go even halfway to the lengths that these guys go to.
So: Rammstein released a “greatest hits” collection before Christmas, that was actually a pretty good beginners guide to the band, featuring all of the band’s best-known songs, a new track that was actually pretty good (especially in tandem with the hilarious video), and as this tour took the same name as said collection, it was reasonable to assume that we’d get a “greatest hits” set. And we did, kind of. What we actually got was a “greatest live” set that took almost all of the best elements of previous shows, added a few other bits and pieces, and rolled it all into one astonishing two hour set.
Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flamen Sehen
Asche zu Asche
Du Reichst So Gut
Links 2 3 4
Encore 1 (small stage):
Mann Gegen Mann
Mein Herz Brennt
And this was a set that balanced theatre and musicality very well – but Rammstein being Rammstein, was full of jaw-dropping effects on, around and above the stage. Which began with the intro, which saw the band enter the stage through the crowd, onto a hitherto hidden small stage in the centre of the crowd, and over a bridge that came down from above – all as part of a (flaming) torchlit procession. Yeah, so it was a bit over the top, but what did we expect?
The fire actually took a little while to appear in earnest, the band instead concentrating initially on the songs, including some seriously old favourites that hadn’t been played in some years featuring. Including, I was overjoyed to note, the first song of theirs I ever heard, courtesy of a German friends in halls in my first year at uni (so, early 1997) – a pulverising take on Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flamen Sehen, which judging on the reaction of a fair proportion of the crowd early on, isn’t one of their best known songs. Still, the marvellously overblown anthem Sehnsucht followed shortly after, before the fun with fire started in earnest.
Oh yes. Asche zu Asche‘s turbocharged riffage led to flaming microphone stands, and Feuer Frei saw the traditional flamethrowers. And by this point it had got rather toasty, so as much I as dislike the rather dull ballad Mutter, it was something of a breather for just about everyone. Which was a good thing as it turned out – Mein Teil‘s marvellously entertaining stage show (in short: Till cooks Flake in a massive pot, goes through bigger and bigger flamethrowers trying to cook him, all while dressed as a blood-splattered chef, complete with microphone as knife) had us enthralled, while the following run of three of their greatest anthems had the whole crowd, including us in the seats, bouncing and grinning like loons. And at least this time, I didn’t get a near-heart attack from the flare-firing over the crowd in a monstrous Du Hast.
Where things got really interesting was when, after the end of Haifisch, the action moved to the middle, much smaller stage, led by most of the band being walked (on all fours). On leads. With Christoph “walking” them, in drag. Which lead into a savage Bück Dich, complete with the infamous dildo and a very surprised crowd near the small stage, I’d think.
From there, it was pretty much a run through various crowd pleasers (I’m no great fan of Amerika on record, but live it is utterly awesome), while Engel seems to have had yet another upgrade since last time, with the music sounding even more immense, and the gigantic steel wings – complete with flamethrowers on the ends – seemed even more impressive than last time. How Till carries them I’ve no idea. And finally, there was the most divisive Rammstein track of all – Pussy. It is still a tacky throwaway, but bizarrely seems so much more fun live. But maybe that was the foam-spurting cock cannon on stage.
But really, what a show. After all these years of honing their act, six albums, and countless songs that are a whole world of fun, they have perhaps reached their pinnacle here. By some considerable distance the best live show I’ve seen in years, and also the best Rammstein show I’ve seen, too, this had us speechless and smiling at the end, trying to take in what we had just seen. So, everyone else, follow that. The pop world can keep their dullards, especially as the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran and the rest of the pop bores had been fawning for the cameras at the Brit Awards in this very venue only a few days before – and we’ll keep the enormous fun of this. Maybe they should have unleashed Rammstein and their fire on the Brits – certainly in a just world they would be a shoo-in for best international live act. Could you just imagine that?