Rammstein live in London
- By Nick Hagan -
- Feb 29, 2012
From a darkened wing of the arena, a hooded figure appears. With flaming torch held aloft, he leads a procession of sombre, grease-smeared men – along with thousands of eager eyes - across a stern metal walkway, to the main stage. Two great bowls of fire are ignited before these strange pilgrims stand in silence, savouring the atmosphere. In a moment, all hell will break loose.
For an opening icebreaker, it's certainly one of the most fantastically preposterous Virgin Red Room has ever witnessed. But then again this evening belongs to Rammstein, a band who have never been known for doing things by halves.
As part of their ‘Made In Germany’ world tour, tonight's show is particularly bombastic, an unremitting audio-visual spectacle from start to finish and a celebration of the band's huge success as one of Deutschland's finest musical exports.
Opener 'Sonne' is a sonic roundhouse, a stunning start to proceedings. The heavy duty pyro that has made the band's live performances infamous is already out in force, and will steadily ratchet up in ridiculousness as the set goes on.
But it's the music that counts, and tonight Rammstein are on predictably world-beating form, dishing up uber tunes and heavy-as-hell crowd pleasers in a greatest hits set of monstrous proportions. 'Mutter', 'Rammstein', 'Ich Will', 'Engel' and many more are brought to life on stage in a barrage of roaring guitar, ribcage-reverberating drumming and thunderous vocals.
'Mein Teil' features one of the evening's most insane instances of grotesque pantomime, as spangly-suited keyboardist Christian 'Flake' Lorenz is wheeled out inside a giant pot before brick shithouse singer Till Lindemann 'cooks' him with a particularly gnarly flamethrower, all underpinned by a soundtrack of grinding synths.
A breathtaking, bruising 'Links 2-3-4' follows shortly afterwards and is definitely a contender for song of the evening, though an equally explosive 'Du Hast' whips the crowd into an absolute frenzy around the midway point.
'Feuer Frei!' brings out those metal-as-fuck flamethrower masks, while later Lindemann dons a gobsmacking pair of metal angel wings that (guess what?!) also spew fire on command. We just hope the health and safety guys get a bonus for all this stuff.
In fact, the length and breadth of the set makes the arsenal of gimmicks on display an almost essential component – while a tour de force, there's so little variation in material that the performance resolutely remains in several well established gears. Rammstein have stuck to a surefire blend of industrial dance metal hybrids throughout their career, and tonight's show certainly reflects that.
However, the best part of the set comes when the band ditch the props entirely. Heading back across the bridge to a cramped podium in the centre of the O2, they treat the standing punters to a few songs at close quarters (including a powerful 'Man Gegen Man'), presenting a whole new dimension of the band in the process. Stripped of excess, they're just six guys rocking out in a confined space – a brilliant tonic to the OTT trappings of the rest of the show.
Back on the main stage, an outstanding encore sees 'Amerika' joining the multitude of high points, before the awful 'Pussy' rounds things off, Lindemann straddling a phallic cannon to shoot foam into the audience as one last hurrah. Which, by this point, we're more than happy to let him do.
Tonight Rammstein provide a truly excellent example of how to push highly choreographed stadium gimmicks to the furthest extreme without undermining the music. While lapsing into monotony at certain moments, it's ultimately bound to be a gig that will remain in the thoughts (and possibly the nightmares) of all those attendant for years to come.
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