Written by: Nico Boshoff
I have been listening to Rammstein since 2002 when I stumbled upon the music video for Sonne, which just ripped my heart out and sent me running to the shops for Mütter. I’ve been addicted since!
So imagine my surprise and utter disbelief when I heard in November 2010 (on the day after my wedding) that these Deities of the Deutsche Neue Härte were setting sail for our shores.
To cut it short, tickets were bought (at ZAR210 / USD40 a pop – BARGAIN!), days were obsessively scratched off the calendar and eventually the big day arrived.
The Grand Arena is situated in the Grand West casino and is usually associated with acts such as Andre Rieu or Cliff Richard-sponsored gigolo conventions, so numerous friends commented beforehand that it’s a rather awkward venue for what was sure to be sonic annihilation. However, in hindsight I reckon the commercial theatre-cum-opera house was extremely fitting given the Metal opera which awaited us all.
The show was set to start at 20h15 and although this was a metal concert (which are renowned for their temporal ignorance) this was a German metal concert and, well, all I can say is I vont to hear only von click!!!
So we took care to be there early to hopefully soak up the atmosphere and perhaps pick up some merchandise.
Upon arrival I found myself wondering whether we had gotten the date wrong and accidently stumbled upon a massive Dungeons & Dragons convention. So.Many.Cloaks.Everywhere.
Anyways, role-playing metalheads aside, I was happy to be in the company of fellow Rammstein fans and grabbed a few beers in the (ironically?) arranged Beer Hall (sans Oompah band) whilst waiting for friends who were on their way.
Friends and 20h00 arrived and we moved in to meet our shared fate.
Seid ihr bereit??? Seid ihr so weit???? Yes and YES!!! Bring on the darkness!!!
The Arena had a very fitting cold atmosphere, emphasized by the blue lighting that was radiated throughout. We got to our seats (yes seats…like I said it was basically an opera house) and as I looked out over the Pit I saw it. There, draped in a massive blue cloth was the stage, like a grim birthday gift waiting to be revealed to the unwitting masses before it.
Suddenly this pseudo opera house was filled with the eerie operatic voices that sent shivers down my spine. And then it came:
Wer wartet mit besonnenheit.
Der wird belohnt zur rechten zeit.
Nun das warten hat ein ende.
Leiht euer Ohr einer Legende.
Suddenly we were all greeted with a massive stage-wide German flag for a split second which also dropped to reveal the reason for our being there.
Till standing front and centre with arms spread wide and staring at an imaginary sky, his two lieutenants, Kruspe and Landers on his flanks. At the top level was Oli Riedel, Schneider and, my personal favourite, Flake, as always perched dead still over his keyboards, giving awkward stares at the crowd every now and again. God, I swear Flake reminds me so much of Obersturmbannführer Karl Ruprecht Kroenen from the Hellboy film fame!!!
Till was splattered with blood which fitted his all leather butcher’s outfit and when he started to sing a bright light radiated from his mouth, making him look like a Cyborg which was about to self-destruct. Further questions regarding Till’s human nature were raised when he started dancing. At times he was dangling from unseen strings like a puppet making him seem almost fragile, while at others he was stumbling around like a Zombie hulk, looking for a head to rip off.
While all this was going on, the band provided the soundtrack, and what a soundtrack it was.
As you would have gathered by now they started us off, rather predictably on Rammlied before tearing the roof off with the driving screams of B**********. Next up was a headbanger’s favourite, Weidmanns Heil, with its machine gun drumming and great chorus, made for screaming! Weidmanns Heil of course also brought to the stage the oversized blunderbuss (well, oversized for most of us. For Till? Not so much.) and the deafening BANG! that came along with it.
Then followed Keine Lust, which was clearly a popular one with this crowd, eliciting the first true sing-along effort from the crowd.
This all blew me away, even if just for the sheer sonic onslaught that it was.
But the goosebumps only came when I heard what was clearly a note from Mein Teil (Flake gave little teaser notes throughout the evening, perhaps to see how much the crowd was paying attention). Man oh man, I couldn’t help laugh in disbelief when Till came out of a massive plume of smoke pushing a man-sized cauldron on wheels. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Flake (in a full sequenced shiny suit) appeared from the pot as dinner a few moments later. To round this grim cooking show off, Till wielded an oversized butcher’s knife with a mic for a handle and midway through the song Till made fire under the pot, Flake still in it.
Mein Teil has possibly the most eerie bridge of any song I have ever heard period. I am of course referring to the “Und so liebevol auf porzelan serviert” part. On the album the keyboards and base riffs are unbelievably dark and spooky, but live, due to the band’s devotion to perfection, and I suppose due to the great acoustics of the Arena, one could hear every single deathly note. Mein Teil was undoubtedly the evening’s highlight for me.
Feuer Frei was up next and was obviously accompanied with ample amounts of dragon’s breath, (or at least I’m sure that’s what those cloaked D&D master referred to it as), be it from the stage (which was felt 50m back) or from the fire helmets worn by the three up front.
BANG BANG!!! How appropriate.
Another favourite of mine was up next – Wiener Blut. I don’t remember too much of what was happening on stage during this song, because I was too busy yelling IN DER DUNKELHEEEEEEEEEIT! I swear I headbanged so hard during this song I thought I broke my neck (what a story that would’ve been!).
The madness of Wiener Blut was followed by the pure beauty of Frühling in Paris, which is such a fun song to sing along to especially when you have such brilliant vocal conductor in Till.
Du Richst so Gut took us back to the good old days of Herzeleid with its splashes of techno and Flake’s funky dancing all across the stage with massive flare guns strapped to him. Probably not good enough for So you think you can dance? but definitely good enough to make me pee my pants laughing at his antics. The man is a freak and in my humble opinion the defining character of Rammstein.
I’m not sure if you know this, but petrol is pretty cheap in South Africa. Rammstein obviously did and made good use of this when time came for Benzin. A large petrol pump was brought on to the stage and naturally the pyromaniac-general lit it to spew a massive javelin of fire over the crowd while yelping “ICH BRAUCHE BENZIIIIIIIIIIIN” like a madman into his chest-mounted microphone!
Then came the sarcastically militant Link 2-3-4 with Till marching around like an undead soldier, back from the dead to destroy the world with a single sonic boom. All I can say is if Till was a sailor, piracy wouldn’t be a problem in Somalian waters anymore.
Of course, what is a Rammstein concert without crowd favourite Du Hast? It’s an oldie, but it’s a goodie! Till got the most out of the crowd during this one, leaving the chorus for the crowd to sing all through the performance.
Next came what would prove to be their last song of the set – Pussy. No giant dildo was mounted and no jizz was spewn into the crowd. However, we did get the “You’ve just won the UEFA Cup” confetti volcano which I suppose also suits the sexual references of the song.
And so all good things must come to an end. However, 12 songs isn’t so bad, and I suppose it was still an ama…wait, what? An encore??? YESSS!!!!!! They had come all this way, so they weren’t done with us yet!
Three more songs followed, and they were the three I was waiting to hear all night:
Sonne – my all time favourite of Rammstein. No seriously, we even walked in on this song on our wedding! The band obviously saved most of their post-Feuer Frei pyrotechnics for this one, because it seemed at one point that the place was going to burn to the ground. They were clearly going full tilt now.
Haifisch – Which was a nice thank you to all us fans.
And, finally, Ich Will which also ended in a frenzy of crowd participation as those famous questions were shouted at us.
Könnt ihr mich hoeren?
Könnt ihr mich sehen?
Könnt ihr mich fuehlen?
So, 15 songs, almost two hours and approximately 14 000 eardrums later and the massacre was (really) over.
And I’ve never been this sad. I mean think about it. Where does one go from here? In fact, where does music go from here? I fear for the day we have to say:
Tchüss Rammstein. Tschüss.
For Affenknecht Nico Boshoff
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