Band ”“ Rammstein
Support ”“ Combichrist
Venue ”“ Wembley Arena
Date ”“ 4/02/2010
Damage – would have paid double what I originally paid and then some.
Rammstein are similar to MichaelÂ Bay ”“ both like fire and both like explosions. Also, the louder the explosions and the fiercer the flames, the better it seems. Even standing in the middle of Wembley Arena I still felt as though someone had thrust my head towards an open hearth. I’m surprised some people weren’t holding marshmallows up in the air.
Opening and only support band Combichrist forgo the use of stringed instruments, seeing the guitar and bass as redundant and instead utilise two percussionists and a keyboard player who resembles Blanka crossed with one of the Psychos from Borderlands. In fact, this description would suit any member of Combichrist, although the vocalist has the look of an escaped convict pretending to be a computer game sprite. Combichrist build their sound around a wall of percussion, with both drummers at opposite ends of the stage, sandwiching the insane keyboard player within this vortex of blast-beats. They’re loud ”“ like dangerously loud and incredibly cocky. The two drummers alternate between climbing over their kits (which are designed to look like some bizarre coiled tail), especially the maniac to my right, who spends most of the set wailing on only a cymbal, clinging on for dear life. Interestingly the only lyrics I can decipher underneath the hailstorm of abrasive tribal drum patterns and shrieking keyboards consist of a volley of swear words, meaning that my ears must now be finely tuned to detect profanity as of watching too much late night comedy or Combichrist just aren’t very imaginative when it comes to writing lyrics. There’s something animalistic about their performance ”“ raw, almost Neanderthal in its primitive drive but incredibly focussed and aggressive. Plus points for the dismantling of the drumkits at the end and the left-hand drummers desire to swap sticks every 10 seconds. Like listening to a techno-metal version of Slipknot that’s been confined to tribal music and casio keyboard demos for too long. A band I would be interested to see in a headlining capacity very soon.
For the German industrial metal juggernaut that is Rammstein it’s been far too long. Rumours of them splitting have been banded around since the release of ‘Mutter‘ in 2001; but they’ve remained a unified, well oiled (ahem) machine throughout such gossip and controversies associated with their imagery and music videos and to have them back on our shores is a delight.Â When it comes to stage entrances, no one quite does it like Rammstein. As the lights dim, dull silhouettes form on what is presumably a fake wall at the back of the stage. Cracks appear as the band break through the partition and make their way on stage, like something from a European re-make of Star Trek.
They open with ‘Rammlied’, the first track from their most recent album, ‘Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da’ a track which shares similarities with ‘Rammstein’ from the band’s debut album, ‘Herzeleid’, i.e. chanting the band’s name in a thick German brogue. This is greeted with rapturous gusto from the assembled crowd. With Rammstein you get more than just a band standing their playing their instruments ”“ it becomes more than a just a standard gig ”“ it’s an extravagant show where 6 musicians attempt to get away with as much mayhem as possible. The drums don’t seem loud enough? Not to worry, every time there’s a particularly heavy beat needed we’ll set off some fireworks or emit a thundering loud bang, complete with a shower of sparks. Some people in the crowd look a little cold, huddling together for warmth? Not to worry, let’s start spraying fire about the place with our hand-mounted flame throwers! ”“ And so on. Every song is accompanied by an explosive blast or a burst of flame, which some cynics might feel seems kind of a gimmick, but in reality it adds to the experience and the music rather than detracting from it. During ‘Benzin’ a stuntman is set alight by Till and spends the remainder of the song dashing about in blazing inferno much to the amusement of the German frontman. Despite ‘Liebe Is Fur Alle Da’ only being released less than 4 months ago, the 9 tracks they play from it (this is after all, that album’s tour) are just as warmly received as older favourites and sung back at Till with passionate urgency. They’re scattered throughout the set, giving old fans a chance to hear their favourites, such as the regimented march of ‘Links 2-3-4’ the bottoming-out riff-a-thon of ‘Keine Lust’ and conflagration anthem, ‘Feuer Frei!’, which is a blazing inferno of pyrotechnics and blasts of industrial noise-metal. Diminutive keyboardist Flake undergoes a costume change halfway through, and emerges dressed in a skin-tight glittering catsuit and proceeds to spend the rest of their set playing his instrument, whilst walking on a treadmill like some camp-80’s spaceman.
The familiar rapid fire keyboard tapping that begins ‘Du Hast’ is like a call to arms. Fists are raised in a determined salute for what is the band’s signature song and vocalist Till is only too happy to oblige in letting the baiting crowd sing the words back to him. The indoor fireworks and explosion that zooms into the middle of the crowd (on a wire) is a nice touch, as is Flake’s journey into the middle of the arena via a rubber dingy (take note; proper crowd surfing). Of course, it wouldn’t be Rammstein without some giant phallus, and the liberal spraying of the front rows using a giant penis cannon brings the second biggest cheer of the evening. ‘Pussy‘ is yet another pleaser; it’s Jimmy-Pop-aping lyrics that cover the subject of intercourse in a mixture of German and English have the entire Arena screaming “YOU’VE GOT A PUSSY! I HAVE A DICK! SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? LET’S DO IT QUICK!” – On a side note, thisÂ is an excellent chat up line reserved only for those so desperate for sex with anything female who have just attended a RammsteinÂ show.Â Of course, by excellent I mean ‘terrible’ andÂ you’re more likely toÂ get a new-rock (doÂ metal girls still wear these?) in the bollocks than your bratwurst in some sauerkraut. Â Not that I have tried. Ahem.
After a ticket-tape shower, (decked out in the red black and yellow colours of the German flag) and two fake encores later (‘Sonne’ finally makes an appearance, as does the chant-a-thon stomp that is ‘Ich Will’) Rammstein end their set with ‘Engel’. Vocalist Till descends beneath the stage to emerge clad in gigantic metal wings that of course, emit flaming jets from the tips, whilst fire leaps from the stage either side of him over the hail of whistling keyboards and precision tight drumming. As the final keyboard hum drones out, the 6 (and now topless) men of the greatest German metal band in the world bow and give humble thanks and depart ”“ truly a majestic and glorious evening for music from one of, if not, theÂ most impressive live acts on the planet. Next time I’ll bring some sausages.
WordsÂ -Â Ross Macdonald
Picture – stolen from some metal forum