Nope, modesty never belonged to the vocabulary of RAMMSTEIN. Holy crap, what gigantism! Well, it is typical for RAMMSTEIN and - of course - expected by everyone.
10 years after their last regular album, some side projects and creative re-orientations, German Industrial Metal titans RAMMSTEIN return with a new record, self-titled or untitled, whatever you want, it was released on May 17. It is the 7th album in the 25 years spanning history of the band and it is said to be the very last one. And - of course - it broke all records. It immediately stormed the #1 of the German album charts (in other countries too) and has sold more copies than any other album during this millennium. In Germany, mind you. Gigantism, I told you! So, it does not wonder that the subsequently announced world tour will also be the biggest production ever in the band’s history.
All European shows were sold out in a twinkling of an eye. And the European tour begins exactly here, in Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia, in Gelsenkirchen at the :: VELTINS Arena ::. Preparations already caused fears and confusions prior the shows when residents saw black smoke rising from the arena and called the fire service or the cops respectively due to some incredible noise coming from there ;) 110.000 of fans came on those two days to see RAMMSTEIN, an insanely huge logistic effort that was handled quite smoothly. Ok, the traffic chaos was predictable. I, luckily, had my own travel management that worked out perfectly, using public transportation. Lines and waiting time at the entry, where fans were painstakingly checked, were kept within limits. It took me 5 minutes to get in. Surprising. I had much more trouble to find my seat, since I’m a newbie to the arena ;)
Much more surprising was the merchandise pricing. 25 Euro (tank tops) and 30 Euro for regular tees. Wow! That is really OK! I have seen much smaller bands with merch pricing of a megalomaniac height. Regarding food and drinks I guess that was the usual pricing of the arena itself. A Veltins beer 0,4l for 4.50 Euro, soft drinks 0,4l 4.40 Euro. RAMMSTEIN fan cups (3 designs) for 2 Euro. Okay, beer: check. Fan cups: check (could not resist ;)). Seat: check. It is a quarter to seven, I’m highly anticipated. Generally, the level of anticipation in the audience was unprecedented. Still 45 minutes to go until the show kicks off. Ah, wait…
At exactly 7 pm the crowd got the first highlight of the evening delivered: the exclusive premiere of the new RAMMSTEIN video for Ausländer. Yeah. Go, go, go, the crowd is warmed up ;)
7.30 pm – the lights were dimmed and the spots focused on a little stage, centered but rather on the east side of the arena. This little stage was prepared for :: DUO JATEKOK ::, a French duo of classic pianists (that already opened for Rammstein in Nîmes in 2017). It consists of Adélaïde Panaget and Naïri Badal, both will open throughout the entire European tour. The tour support was obviously an ambivalent matter for many fans. The musical contrast could not have been bigger. But that was intended and also had an extra meaning.
After a very suiting intro of Händels Music For The Royal Fireworks, DUO JATEKOK delivered a 45 minutes set of wonderful piano pieces, interpreting tracks from the Rammstein – XXI – Piano album. The piano sound was brutal and massive, much in contrast to the petite ladies creating them. Unfortunately, the show was received by the audience rather halfhearted and had more the effect of background music.
However, if you are into classic piano music and like interpretations aside beaten tracks I just encourage you to check out DUO JATEKOK. During the last two tracks of the performance, the roof of the arena was slowly (very, very slowly) opened and the 6 fire towers were visibly warmed up.
Band: Adélaïde Panaget & Naïri Badal
Setlist: Klavier, Engel, Mein Herz Brennt, Du hast, Ohne dich, Frühling in Paris, Seemann, Sonne
A very short intermission followed. Hardly 15 minutes later the intro for :: RAMMSTEIN :: set in, ending with a big bang and a rain of fire, while the band members entered the stage. Hell yeah. The masses started to scream, chant and bowl. What a noise. It was deafening. The fire towers were spitting pitch-black smoke. Thank Buddha the roof was opened, otherwise we would all have been killed by smoke poisoning. I guess the fine dust data and stats for Gelsenkirchen are now ruined for years ;)
Another impression: I had my seat at the press & TV tower high above, almost under the roof. Every time fans were raising their naked arms, it looked like a huge fields of maggots moving down below in the arena. Uhhh, that was spooky…
Since I had a good view on the people, I witnessed many little mosh pits down there. Though, I had the feeling that band and fans likewise acted restrained. It was the mid-set track Heirate mich that finally stirred up the crowd’s blood.
There were many dynamics and movements on stage. The whole concert was more of a theatrical stage-play, a circus extravaganza, with many strange set-pieces and gadgets to be used, like a huge baby’s pram to be burnt and the stewpot Till Lindemann tried to roast keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz alive during Mein Teil. Almost every song had some sort of stunt associated with it. The settings were provoking, subversive, macho-like, rude and funny. This is indeed a show, not the concert of a Rock band.
RAMMSTEIN have become notorious for their pyro-heavy shows. But tonight the fire was used rather sparingly, although they actually had two road tankers outside, right and left from the stage. I was expecting much more fire! Especially since it was cold and drafty where I sat. There was only one thing to do: to jump up and dance! For example to the Deutschland remix by guitarist Richard Kruspe, its LED stickman performance very much looked like a Kraftwerk performance, with a touch of Anne Clarks Our Darkness in the end of the music.
And then, finally, FIRE! During Sonne the band fired off everything possible. Ah yeah, that was what I was waiting (and feeling) for.
There were no announcements made. Ok, I understand, every single member had a lot to do with outfit changes and handling all that stuff on stage ;)
Of course, RAMMSTEIN first focused on the new album, airing 9 of the 11 tracks from. In between and around, many classics were served, mostly from the debut Herzeleid, from Sehnsucht, Mutter and Reise, Reise.The last two records were left aside, except for one song, Pussy.
The core of the whole show was the stage. The stage was HUGE! The stage looked dystopian, martial, threatening, with the cold aesthetics of the Third Reich. Surely another provocation. The show was accompanied by a symphony of perfectly set and mighty light effects and video sequences. It was a sheer visual power and a breathtaking spectacle. My angle to the stage was not that good, so I could not see the vids and the main part of the stage.
Oh, and yes, it is a pity that everybody talks about the show but not about the music. Sitting here and witness what is going on down there it is difficult to talk about the music ;) That is something better left for an album review. Besides, the music was so deafening loud it was hardly possible to sort out single parts, may it be solos, riffs or whatever. The voice of Till Lindemann was partly too quiet and too powerless.
After an outstanding 90 minutes performance Ohne Dich heralded the end of the main part of the show. A short breathing space yet no fuss. Not even enough time for the crowd to get the encore chants started as the concert continued. The main stage was left in the dark and the tiny stage in the middle of the hall was lightened with the two ladies of DUO JATEKOK on pianos. They interpreted Engel with the RAMMSTEIN members flanking them like guards and Till Lindemann singing. A huge sea of (mobile, zipper) lights illuminated the arena. Wow, that was impressing. Afterwards the band members sailed in a dinghy towards the stage, borne by the audience. Ausländer was performed, and two other tracks. Again, it was not the end. A second encore followed with Rammstein and Ich will to ultimately finish and unleash the masses into a cold night.
Was the show worth the ticket prices, costs and efforts? Yes, it was! RAMMSTEIN is a phenomenon, a singularity in the metal world, a spectacle to behold. Even if you are not a fan or like the music that much. The show outweighs everything. It is a breathtaking spectacle. Did I already mention that it was all gigantic? Oh yes, I did ;) Just to mention it again…
Band: Till Lindemann (vox), Richard Kruspe (git), Paul Landers (git), Oliver Riedel (bass), Christoph „Doom“ Schneider (drums), Christian „Flake“ Lorenz (keys)
Setlist: Intro, Was ich liebe, Links 2-3-4, Sex, Tattoo, Sehnsucht, Zeig dich, Mein Herz brennt, Puppe, Heirate mich, Diamant, Deutschland (Rmx by Richard Z. Kruspe), Deutschland, Radio, Mein Teil, Du hast, Sonne, Ohne dich // Engel (Scala & Kolacny), Ausländer, Du riechst so gut, Pussy // Rammstein, Ich will