Somehow, in all my years with music, I've never managed to see Rammstein. Appalling I know and I have absolutely no idea why, so in an attempt to rectify this egregious error I hustled my backside over to the O2 really rather excited about seeing these flame spitting German behemoths.
Now, I have a closet love for industrial Metal having previously spent many a year working at a well known German Metal label, so to finally get to see Rammstein up eyebrow singeingly close and personal was just pretty much all my birthdays come at once. From the second the big metal bridge slowly lowered into place connecting the main stage with a tiny circular one mid-arena, heralding the solemn procession of the torch and flag bearing band from the side of the arena, the ripple of excitement that went through the sold out crowd gave us the inkling that we were all in for one wild ride, but I just had no idea just how much!
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'Sonne' kicks off the spectacle in true, footstomping Rammstein style, brutal yet with the haunting chorus seeping through the flashbombs, flames and fireworks. On through 'Kein Lust', 'Sucht' and the sight of quirky keyboardist Christian 'Flake' Lorenz manoeuvering his treadmill in all directions during 'Asche', things really start to crank up for the mighty 'Feuer Frei', the crowd roaring as they recognise the intro.
As we'd all expected, the antics with this song really are any pyrophile's wet dream and the heat belching out from the face mounted flame throwers is just nuts, but we love it and we absolutely bloody love them for bringing this bonkers show to us!
Vocalist Till Lindemann snarls and roars his way through their charming little cannibal ditty 'Mein Teil' as clad in butcher's garb he attempts to boil the unfortunate Lorenz in a huge cauldron, then gets his bow and arrow shooting fireworks for 'Du Riechst So Gut' as Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers wring the necks of their guitars, note perfect, Christoph Schneider pummelling the living daylights out of his kit.
Amidst this mayhem, Lindemann is always right at the heart, conducting an orchestra of flames, light and sound, fireworks exploding as they race along overhead lines, purple firework bombs hurtling down from the ceiling chasing after the keyboardist as he legs it across the stage.
Few bands can match these theatrics with their music but Rammstein do this with consummate ease.
Then we get it, that unmistakable keyboard intro and the whole place erupts to the classic 'Du Hast'. Holy crap, I've heard some Metal in my time but this song takes it to a new height. It's heavy as fuck when played live, probably one of the most awesome, bone crunchingly brutal and pervasive tracks I've ever heard.
With a slight shift in mood, 'Haifische' brings a bit of dinghy crowd surfing from Lorenz before the band play on the second stage, a tiny space with barely room to move and the only theatrics here are Lindemann's fake penis ejaculating over all and sundry through 'Buck Dich'. On through 'Mann Gegen Mann' and the 'Ohne Dich', the simplicity of this stage just highlights how great their music is when stripped bare. Everything else is simply a bonus.
Back on main stage, the first encore commences with a huge rotating fan dropping down behind the drum riser against a nightmarish blood red honeycombed backdrop for the dark, brooding 'Mein Herz' and I swear by now my ears are bleeding. The confetti cannons come out for the 'Amerika' then they end with the thundering 'Ich Will'.
After just over two hours of punishing performance, the band step out as sprightly as ever for their final encore. Firstly the fabulous 'Engel', Lindemann unfolding his enormous glistening angel wings and shooting huge jets of flames from the tips, visually stunning and definitely removing what ever was left of the first ten rows' eyebrows, climaxing with 'Pussy' and the enigmatic vocalist riding his large pink phallic cannon from one side of the stage to the other, spunking out foam across a few thousand delighted people!
They take a bow after this enthralling romp of blistering industrial Metal, a bloody amazing gig of epic proportions but I feel it's us who should bow down to them after a performance like that.
This incongruous band have stormed down their own unique path for nearly two decades now, testing boundaries across music, politics and taste albeit always with humour and intelligence, and with 15 million albums sold and not a single change in line-up since their inception, Rammstein should be an inspiration to anyone within the music industry.
This was one of the most superb, entertaining and energising gigs I've ever been to, an explosion of light, sound, fireworks and flames, liberally spliced with humour and a fitting accompaniment to their utterly fabulous music.
Put simply, Rammstein are without doubt the best live band on the circuit today. By a very, very long way.
Till Lindemann â€“ lead vocals
Richard Z Kruspe â€“ guitar, backing vocals
Paul H Landers â€“ guitar, backing vocals
Oliver 'Ollie' Riedel â€“ bass guitar
Christoph 'Doom' Schneider â€“ drums, percussion
Christian 'Flake' Lorenz â€“ keyboards, samples
Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen
Du Riechst So Gut
Mann Gegen Mann
Mein Herz Brennt