Rammstein @ LG Arena, Birmingham – 25 February 2012

Since the formation of German industrial metallers Rammstein in 1994, there have been no changes to the band line-up. Currently touring to promote their compilation album ‘Made in Germany’ – tonight showcases their greatest hits from over 15 years in the business.

A slow procession, led by a flame bearer, makes their way to the mixing desk in the middle of the arena. From here the band ascend onto an overhead bridge, and march towards the stage, directly above fans in the standing area. Their arrival onstage is followed by the “Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf” countdown, to set opener ‘Sonne’.

And so begins two hours of probably the best live show I have witnessed in nearly 30 years of concert attendance. Only one previous show comes close, that being the same band, at the same venue, two years previously.

The Rammstein live show features plenty of pyro, fire, smoke, explosions and confetti cannons throughout. Did I mention the fire? There’s lots of fire! The aforementioned opener followed by ‘Wollt Ihr Das Bett’ baptises those who came unprepared.

‘Keine Lust’ is followed by ‘Sehnsucht’ and ‘Asche’, Till Lindemann strapping a red flare to his waist and spewing dense fog across the stage. I then have to travel from the photo-pit, to camera lock-up, before I can head back to front-of-house. During this time ‘Feuer Frei’ and ‘Mutter’ are played.

‘Mein Teil’ sees a cooking pot wheeled out from under the drum riser. Keyboard player Christian “Flake” Lorenz climbs inside, before Lindemann – dressed as a chef – proceeds to cook him with a flame-thrower. And then, inevitably in retrospect, comes a larger flame thrower with the cooking pot exploding!

Whilst Rammstein have a very cool, industrial, grubby stage presence, it is Flake that stands out on his own. Wearing a tight, glitter suit; he walks a treadmill throughout the set, whilst playing his keys. Often cast as the outsider, his distinctive roles in the band’s theatrical presentation have led to him becoming very popular among fans.

‘Du Riechst So Gut’ and ‘Links 234’ precede fan favourite ‘Du Hast’. During the military precision chugging riff, rockets are sent hurtling over the crowd, before exploding halfway across the arena and returning back to stage.

A dinghy appears on stage at the start of ‘Haifisch’, which leads to Lorenz climbing aboard and sailing across a sea of hands. There is a moment of worry when a fan joins him, but clearly the punter is only along for the ride. The passenger is removed when they reach the mixing desk, before Flake makes the return crossing.

Just when you think Rammstein have given their all – a small stage rises up, in front of the mixing desk. The overhead bridge is lowered and the band appear from the stage, crawling on their hands and knees, with drummer Christoph Schneider, dressed as a woman, leading from the rear, whipping his band mates like a pack of dogs. It’s all very S&M, with prosthetic additions and simulations culminating in surrounding fans receiving a good soaking.

‘Buck Dich’, ‘Mann Gegen Mann’ and ‘Ohne Fich’ are performed from the small platform, before the band return to the main stage, bowing to respectfully accept a thunderous ovation. Lindemann thanks Birmingham on behalf of Rammstein, speaking to the audience for the first time, in excellent English, to say goodnight.

A huge, industrial propeller fan is lowered into place at the back of the stage, prior to the band returning for ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, ‘Amerika’ and ‘Ich Will’. Accompanied by dramatic lighting production, confetti cannons and ticker-tape, the LG Arena crowd is treated to a visual feast.

With such a spectacular stage show and stunning effects, one could be forgiven for not mentioning the music played at a Rammstein gig. Suffice to say, German efficiency takes hold in every department, with the massive riffs, hooks, and choruses – that have put them where they are today – matching the extravagant and overblown performance.

The show finale sees Lindemann perform ‘Engel’ with a giant pair of angels wings strapped to his back, shooting flames from their tips, before he mounts an equally gigantic pink “rocket” at the front of the stage, squirting foam over the crowd during ‘Pussy’.

Tonight Rammstein proved to me, yet again, they put on a show like no other band. This was not just another metal gig – it was performance art, worth seeing no matter what your musical taste may be. You will never see anything else like this, and you will not be disappointed.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston