Flamethrowers, exploding babies and a sonic apocalypse: John Robb proclaims Rammstein’s current tour the greatest show you will see this year
This is getting ridiculous. How big does a band have to be before it gets recognised?
In a virtually sold out Manchester Arena (that’s nearly 20,000 people) Rammstein are in pulverising form, the crowd are going crazy, the atmosphere is electric and the firebombs launching from the stage are like World War Three on apocalypse LSD.
And yet the band is virtually ignored by the mainstream media who are tied up in knots over the world of indie. As a confused journo told me once, they don’t cover “this sort of stuff”.
They may have to change the agenda – Rammstein cannot be ignored any longer. For the sheer breadth of their vision, their stunning live show and the fact that their German language records are huge worldwide they have got to be recognized. This fear of industrial/Goth/metal or whatever useless tag you wanna chuck this way has to be dropped.
Tonight sees a band at the peak of their game. The set is mainly cuts from their new album, Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (top 20 in the USA and across Europe – huge in Russia) and still have the place rocking. They were dark, funny and surreal at each turn with a stage show that dwarfs any other.
Now normally I’m a hater of stage shows – phonies like Kiss can kiss my ass, all those props to cover up a rotten band make it even duller. But with Rammstein the fire-breathing, baby-eating apocalyptic stage show is such part and parcel of their schtick that it cannot be brushed aside.
There is, of course, the fire – loads of it – you can feel its heat on your face as another outrageous flame hits the roof. Rammstein breathe it in, they breathe it out, they fire it over the crowd, and at one point a stage invader runs between the band members and they set fire to him- the crowd gasps in disbelief before realising its possibly a pretend torching.
Frontman Til Lindemann Grapples with skinny freak keyboard player, Christian “Flake” Lorenz and shoves him in a tin bath, dousing him from a podium with barrels of fireworks. Lorenz emerges from the bath in a bizarre spangling outfit and spends the rest of the set playing his keys while walking on a treadmill.
Ten minutes later Lindemann sprays the audience with fake spunk from a ten foot cock cannon during the band’s sex romp porn single, ‘Pussy’ underlining the song’s lusty sticky paged grot mag intent. The single, and its sleazoid video were banned from the same terrified mainstream media that has no fear of showing Girls Aloud’s bump n’grind pussy-pushing, tit-flapping dance routines before the so called family threshold.
The band take every German stereotype and magnify them before shoving them back into the preconceived notions of Germanic culture. They laugh at the hypocrisy of the so-called guardians of taste like our own dear old Radio One, they ask questions by just being there. By refusing to play their last album, even though it sold enough to be a hit record, the BBC is made to look silly as Rammstein’s panzer division powers its way through a worldwide stadium tour.
Of course they could not get away with this if the music was limp, weak or lame, but with the twin guitar assault on 11 out of 10 the band are taking no prisoners, Lindemann’s remarkable operatic croon and grubby satanic growl give them the crucial edge. The stomping, pounding grooves become songs, and his charismatic presence dominates the space. They sound really fucking heavy, like Killing Joke before them Rammstein meld techno and trance with their sound, making them eminently danceable.
Killing Joke are a neat comparison. There is that wild-eyed insanity and cutting sense of malevolent wit, that enjoyment of pressing all the wrong buttons and that dance metal distortion thing going on. Misunderstood is how band like this like it. Rammstein sing of porn, cannibalism, death and darkness, they smirk at the confused and they somehow turn it into a monstrous showbizness spectacle.
You have to go and see them.
This is the best show out on the road this year.
Original source: The Quietus
By John Robb , February 6th, 2010
Photo: P.R. Brown