Rammstein – Review

@ Birmingham LG Arena, February 3 2010

There is a general consensus on the grapevine that Rammstein’s latest album will be their last.  After admitted disputes over musical directions the band could be parting ways.  If so, then they’re certainly going out with a bang.

                          

Rammstein had only three UK dates on their latest tour.  London, Manchester and Birmingham were lucky enough to be included and thousands flocked to see a band that has matured progressively since their last UK tour in 2005.

To kick off the night at the LG arena, Norwegian band Combichrist opened up.  The set was a very suitable warm up for Rammstein, incorporating elements of industrial techno and electronica.  Lead singer Andy LaPlegua commanded the stage with his energetic presence and consistent hollers.

Despite the fact he remained at the centre of attention during the set, it took nothing away from what was a great collective performance.  Standing as an unconventional four piece band (two drummers, a synth player with the vocalist) Combichrist created a sound that was slightly Manson-esque and resembled a dark Prodigy.  While one drummer maintained a constant dancey rhythm, the other slogged at the kit, pounding out a trudging downtrodden beat.

After Andy Pleguas’ rally for Rammstein, the fans were ready for the main act.

Rammstein’s opener came with convincing force.  As Rammlied began its haunting operatic tune, guitarists Paul Landers and Richard Kruspe smashed their way through plywood doors, with every kick opening a hole for a beam of light to shine through.  The anticipation of the Birmingham crowd was slowly broken down with each strike.  Eventually burly front-man Till Lindemann made his appearance with deafening blows of heavy guitar and drums.

It wasn’t until their second song Bueckstabue that the atmosphere rallied and a mosh pit ensued. Lindemann’s face was contorted as he yelled the chorus of a twisted metal frenzy.

In spite of the epic opening, the best was yet to come.

Performances of the older songs were made heavier throughout.  This was done more so by drummer Christoph Doom Schneider’s style which cemented a solid direction for the set, focusing more on the songs from what some have dubbed as the heaviest album yet.  Weisses Fleisch featured a longer drum solo in the middle of the song and set the standard for a sound that packed a lot of punch.

Known for their intense fire shows, it was expected that there would be some flames to heat up the arena.  Rammstein delivered with a pyrotechnic display that was second to none.  Popular favourite Feuer Frei got the crowd going as Landers and Kruspe had flamethrowers attached to their faces, with bursts of flames protruding from their mouths as they chanted Bang Bang!.

The controversial new single Pussy was about as disco-esque as Rammstein will ever get.  A large phallic shaped foam machine blasted out wet liquid while the crowd sang along.

A beautiful rendition of Fruhling In Paris calmed the crowd to a more reflective state, before Ich Tu Dir Weh.  The song featured keyboardist Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz assaulting Lindemann in a rehearsed act, only to be put in a steel bath. Lindemann was then elevated on a platform to about 15 feet higher than stage level, where sparkles rained down on Flake and explosions followed.  Flake emerged in a new glittering costume and re-assumed his post beside the keyboard, where bizarrely, a treadmill started up and he continued for the rest of the gig on it.

The stunts simply didn’t stop.  While baby dolls dropped from the ceiling, with green lasers on their heads, Lindemann patted his face with despair in Wiener Blut, a song about the acts of Josef Fritzl.

Engel topped off the bill in what was a spectacular finale.  Lindemann returned after the encore with angel’s wings on his back blazing fire from each wing.

This tour does seem like it could be the end for Rammstein.  It would be a shame for those who haven’t experienced this truly extraordinary show.  But if it is to be the end for one of the most controversial bands on the planet they would be finishing on a high note.

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