Concert Review by Mark Bayross
Brixton Academy, London – Sunday 4 December 2001
Rammstein have developed a reputation as one of the most thrilling live bands on the planet, mainly on account of their famed pyro-filled stage shows, but also the fact that they more than deliver the goods musically. When you consider that their entire repertoire (minus one cover version – more of which later) is sung in German, the strength of their connection with audiences across the globe is testament to their power.
After the massive disappointment of the cancellation of their Astoria gig in the summer (I live locally and was gutted – I can’t imagine how the poor sods who had travelled from all over the UK and beyond must have felt), the show has been moved to the far larger Brixton Academy in anticipation of increased demand. They weren’t wrong – tonight’s show is sold out and the Academy is heaving.
Openers Clawfinger (whom, ironically, Rammstein had supported in the mid-90s) are heavy and tight enough, but don’t really excite. Despite the fact that the Swedes are singing in English, their barrage of industrial-rap-metal is mostly met by bewilderment. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the band, promising “your beloved Rammstein” as they wind up their set. Still, Clawfinger are not without their moments, particularly their giant, hair-windmilling bassist and the searing closer DO WHAT I SAY.
Fortunately Rammstein waste little time in getting started, and before we know it, a lab coat-wearing Flake has taken up his position behind his angle-poise keyboard and kicked off the opening strings of MEIN HERZ BRENNT. Winched down from the heavens on top of one of six huge flying saucers, hulking vocalist Till Lindemann cuts an impressively grotesque figure with his military uniform, spiky mohican and artificial hunchback – Quasimodo meets Travis Bickle.
They crunch through LINKS 234 and SEHNSUCHT before the arrival of FEUER FREI! and the first gasps from the crowd, as Lindemann and guitarists Richard Z Kruspe-Bernstein and Paul Landers shoot fire at each other from the top of their heads. From then on it’s high octane – and propane – all the way as the Germans bulldoze their way through ADIOS, ZWITTER, DU HAST and REIN RAUS, with the only respite coming in the lush ballad form of MUTTER.
The set pieces are all present and correct – Flake’s piss-take dancing during WEISSES FLEISCH; the flaming microphone stands for ASCHE ZU ASCHE; and of course, the cop-bothering buggery and ejaculation routine of BUCK DICH. But all this would be pointless if the music wasn’t up to standard and, with a roster of increasingly high quality albums behind them – Rammstein more than deliver in the melody-meets-heaviness stakes, as the juggernaut riffs and monumental keyboards take the roof off the place.
As ever, they finish the main set with ENGEL, but re-emerge with RAMMSTEIN and Till Lindemann’s most famous pyro-trick, performing the song literally on fire. This is followed by the majestic SONNE, accompanied by a spectacular light-show, and the guitar stampede that is ICH WILL, and rounded off with a rare rendition of Depeche Mode’s STRIPPED, presumably because of the show’s location tonight, complete with Flake surfing the crowd in his dinghy (and this time falling off).
Considering all Rammstein’s vocals are in German, it was quite something to see the audience so into the music, singing along to every word and displaying a devotion that clearly touched the band. We leave, ears ringing, faces scorched and hearts full of fire, with the satisfaction that we shared in something special tonight.