Friday, May 4, 2012
Review: Rammstein @ DCU Center
Rammstein @ DCU Center, Worchester, MA -- April 29, 2012
Review: Dave Bolton
When you live in Massachusetts and are a music fan, you get to expect certain things. The most obvious one is that everyone knows that Aerosmith come from this area and it doesn’t matter that they are no longer relevant.
The second aspect of living here is that in terms of mid-size venues…we’re a bit limited. If you are a touring band with an impressive stage-show and you want to play Boston, you play the TD Garden. If you are a popular band that will get the punters in, you play the House of Blues and if you aren’t confident of selling that many tickets but you know that people have heard your music on the radio, you play the Paradise/Royale/Brighton Music Hall.
If you are a industrial metal band from Germany performing a live set that relies on explosions, pyrotechnics, flamethrowers and penis-shaped cannons dispensing “foam” onto the audience, you need to find somewhere that isn’t in Boston.
Which explains why I was in Worcester on a Sunday night (less than 24 hours before I had to be on a plane to England) to experience Rammstein effortlessly battering all of my senses into submission.
When Rammstein came to the US in 2010, they sold out Madison Square Garden in five minutes. I was one of those fans who failed to get a ticket and I don’t mind admitting that I thought my chances of seeing Till and the boys play in the US was slimmer than an East German before the fall of the Berlin Wall. They came again in 2011, but chose not to visit New England (possibly still a little bit peeved about the night they spent in the cells in 1999!).
In America, let me just be diplomatic and say that for some bands that want to come here…it helps your application for a Visa if you weren’t arrested and fined for pretending to take your keyboard player up the back passage. Especially in a state founded by Puritans.
So when I heard they were coming to Massachusetts, I was very pleased. I assumed they would play the Garden…they decided that the DCU Center in Worcester was a better option. Undeterred, I bought a ticket (in November 2011) and prepared to be blown away. I could just make this the world’s shortest review and say that it was amazing. But that would be a lie. It was so much more. The other week I was at Kraftwerk in the company of a select few - this time there were a few more voices singing in German.
It wasn’t sold out, there were significant gaps in the seating but apparently 6,000 people had come to Worcester to see the band. Before the gig I chatted with people from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine – all of whom had longer drives to get home than me!
There was no support act but for 25 minutes before the band came on we were treated to dubstep/techno remixes of the Greatest Hits, all accompanied by a selection of black and white images of the band interspersed with some of the things that make Germany great (flag-waving, marching, outdoor exercise by blonde people). Think Leni Riefenstahl mixed with MTV and you get the picture.
Some people in the crowd loved it (I was one), the Goths were dancing and the electronic kids waved their glow sticks but the majority of the metal-heads sat in silence. They weren’t here to see a DJ; they wanted to have their eyebrows burnt off.
The lights dimmed. An enormous metal bridge descended from the ceiling and settled in front of the mixing desk, conveniently allowing access from a tiny stage to the main one at the other end of the arena.
Then we see fire and Rammstein enter the DCU like heavyweight boxers before a championship bout. They are holding flaming torches and flags. They slowly walk in and make their way to the bridge, standing still as the crowd roars. The music hasn’t even started and they just stand there, before marching across the bridge to the main stage. More fires are lit and then…here comes the Sonne!
The venue gets very hot, very quickly. For two hours, the band pummel the audience and we love it. Nearly every song is in German but that doesn’t matter, for one night we are all Made In Germany. Guitars battle with pyro for attention, the industrial beat is brutal and unrelenting and each new track just raises the expectations of the crowd.
There are obvious highlights; Till standing under a shower of sparks during "Mutter," the flaming wings during "Engel," the burning heart during "Mein Herzt Brent," Flake getting into an inflatable raft to be “crowd surfed” and the endless pyrotechnics…but to dismiss Rammstein as a show with a series of musical distractions would be foolish. These Teutonic Titans haven’t been at the top of the industrial metal game for 18 years without a few great songs in their locker.
And we get them all. "Keine Lust," "Links 2-3-4," "Feuer Frei," "Ich Will," "Ohne Dich," "Mein Teil" (with Flake boiled alive in a big pot), "Du Hast"…two hours of metal that makes the three hour roundtrip to Worcester seem a perfectly sane idea.
They play "Amerika" and the crowd sings every word, probably aware that “this is not a love song” but happy to indulge in the fantasy that everything here in the Land of the Free is wunderbar. They don’t treat us to "Stripped" (one of the few tracks that they sing in English) but they finish with "Pussy"…which is not about a fondness for felines.
Then it’s over. Till thanks us in English and hopes that they don’t get arrested again, the lights come up and the smoke hangs over the arena. Somewhere backstage, six guys from Germany are probably removing the smell of petrol from their clothes and thinking about their next concert. They get to do this every night…I would happily drive behind their trucks to see this again.
But I had a plane to catch. Maybe next time, they will play in Boston.
Wolit Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen
Asche Zu Asche
Du Richst So Gut
Mann Gegen Man
Mein Herz Brennt