I’m not really sure what just happened to me, but I think I just saw a Rammstein concert. Let me rephrase that, I know I saw a Rammstein concert but I am not sure what it did to me. There was fire. There were explosions. There was one gimp onstage, plenty of leather and metal on the band, there was showmanship plus supreme sounds and vocals.
I am going to make no secret of the fact that I love Rammstein. They have never misfired on any song. Their videos are fascinating, their image just as fascinating, and to see a Rammstein show after so many years? Well, I think I had a really big grin stuck on my face throughout the show. As most American fans, I got my first exposure to Rammstein via “Du Hast,” off their second release,Sehnsucht – a song which remains their most recognizable. The video for “Du Hast” demanded that I found out more about this German band.
Rammstein’s created five shining albums since 1995, plus last year’s compilation. I wondered what they would sound like live, and the sound quality at this show was perfect. I could make out all the lyrics, and the lyrics are very important in Rammstein songs. You don’t know any German? Familiarize yourself with the translations just enough to follow along. It’s well worth it. Do you need to understand German to enjoy the music? No, but it will add to your experience, as any amount of research into say, seeing an opera would help.
Which brings me to opera. Conceptually Rammstein reminds me as much of opera as it does industrial or metal. Maybe an especially wicked and violent opera. Why? The sheer enormity of what they’re doing onstage. The band breathes fire; they take risks that are insane. I am sure it’s all safe enough, but as close as I was taking photos it seemed like some dangerous engineering. For “Engel,” Singer Till Lindemann appeared onstage in angel wings, which folded and unfolded – and shot fire. Also Lindemann’s voice is cruel, forceful and completely captivating.
Midway through the show a giant ramp extended from the stage to a smaller stage at the other end of the venue. Four of Rammstein were led (as in the “Mein Teil” video), while on all fours, via a leash held by drummer Christoph Schneider. After everyone got situated, then performed “Bück Dich,” “Mann Gegen Mann,” and their beautiful ballad “Ohne Dich.” Gorgeous.
Photographers were allowed to photograph songs 6, 7, 8 of the show. This meant I got to see the performance of one of my favorites, “Mutter,” up close. I caught “Sehnsucht” while waiting, another favorite. “Mein Teil” featured a gimp in a saucepan, with Lindemann as a bloodied butcher equipped with a knife and the world’s hugest cooking torch. And “Haifisch,” another of Rammstein’s more sensitive songs, was moving. Other standouts for me were “Mein Herz Brennt,” “Ich Will” and “Engel” – all passionate songs.
The show ended with a second encore ending with “Pussy,” featuring Lindemann riding a giant pink rocket, which spurted foam. “Pussy” should have been a much bigger hit in the States. It’s damned catchy, it’s in English, it’s funny. Censors ruin everything. The audience appreciated it anyway.
I really felt among fellow fans who get Rammstein’s humor, power, intensity, significance and Lindemann’s poetry. I never thought I’d get to see this band live, and it was a high point surpassing all hopes.