I’ve at least started heading to gigs in 2010 rather earlier than I did last year, and I picked a good one to start with, too: Rammstein at Wembley Arena. I’ve never been to Wembley Arena before, and I’d not heard a lot to recommend it, either, with many stories of atrocious sound. Of course, to experience that, I needed to get there first – and thanks to someone “falling under a train” at Finchley Road last night it made my journey a whole lot longer than it should – very nearly ninety minutes rather than the usual forty or so, according to the timetable.
My girlfriend got there even later, but we still didn’t miss any of Combichrist, due to them not coming onstage ’til 2000 – despite “doors 1800, show starts at 1930” printed clearly on the tickets. The relatively late start for Combichrist meant, needless to say, a somewhat short set – barely thirty minutes. However little time was wasted, and we were treated to a pulverising set that was heavy on the beats (two drummers really helped here) and also leaned heavily on the later, vocal-based material. Even so, it was good fun and Andy La Plegua is clearly enjoying this lengthy tour as support, not least as I’d suspect it’s probably gaining him a fair number of new fans, and it was very strange indeed not being in a small room watching the band. We were a little disappointed to see an almost total ignoring of the “old” stuff, but not that surprised, but the crowd as a whole were hugely appreciative. The appearance of Scarred made more sense upon receiving a release from Out of Line this morning that confirmed that Scarred is to be the new single, and the single version will feature Wes Borland (!). Could this tour be Combichrist’s break into the mainstream? We shall see…
All Pain Is Gone
Get Your Body Beat
Fuck That Shit
What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?
Rammstein were what most people were there for, I’d expect (going just to see Combichrist would have been an expensive way to do that). I’ve seen Rammstein four times previously (twice on the Mutter tour, and twice more on the Reise, Reise tour), but it didn’t dull the thrill of revisiting a show by frankly the single most entertaining live band I’ve ever seen.
Some dismiss them as copyists of other bands, that have no songs and only jets of fire, not to mention being somewhat po-faced – and really, that is as untrue as it misses the point. Yes, new album opener (and set opener) Rammleid nods back to Laibach at points, but either way it’s a solid, heavy-duty intro to a lengthy set. Not to mention the nod to Spinal Tap in the band’s introduction, as Till and the guitarists Richard and Paul entered the stage by cutting their way out of clear pods, and Till seemingly avoided getting stuck inside by using…a blowtorch. As you do.
The set was heavily biased towards the newer material, which cut a few old classics from the set, but provided all kinds of new setpieces on stage to accompany them. And, anyway, some of the new material is easily a match for the older, so it wasn’t too much of a problem. The expected flames and explosions took their time in coming, though – the oldest song played, Wieses Fleisch, was shorn of the flaming boots of old, for example – but the following hurtle through Feuer Frei! brought the impressive head-held flamethrowers. Not all of the new songs worked, though, the acoustic textures of Frühling In Paris were somewhat lost in the cavernous venue and, as the song is not one of the strongest on the new album anyway, seemed to me something to give the band a break more than anything else.
Frühling In Paris
Ich Tu Der Weh
Liebe Ist Für Alle Da
Links 2 3 4
Happily, things picked up after the midset lull, starting with the quite extraordinary theatre of Ich Tu Der Weh, which involved stupid amounts of firecrackers, a bath, Flake being chucked in it, Till raising on a platform about twenty feet above, and then releasing yet more firecrackers and flames from a container in his hand, oh, and Flake reappearing in shiny, mirrored outfit to then walk on a treadmill under his keyboards for the rest of the set. An idea of what was going on, in part, anyway, can be seen on the video for the single recently released. Elsewhere, Liebe Ist Für Alle Da proved again that it is by far the best song on the new album, while Benzin was surprisingly good live, although the memory of it might have had something to do with the petrol pump and flamethrower on stage.
Links 2 3 4 and Du Hast were both utterly immense (the moshpits for both looked fearsomely big), and the latter no doubt scared the pants off much of the crowd once again with the flares sent on wires above the crowd (it nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I saw it many years ago, directly underneath them!), and a reminder of exactly why Rammstein are such a huge live draw. Pussy, however, is Rammstein having a lot of fun, even if it split opinion, and this was, er, rammed home by the gigantic prostethetic penis-cannon Till rode across the stage at the songs, er, climax, shooting a whole lot of what I hope was foam across the crowd. I’m still no great fan of the song, but it was very, very funny.
The encore was initially a little bit of a letdown – no Rammstein, no flaming Till? Shame, but it was toasty enough with the surprisingly upbeat Sonne, while Haifisch seemed an odd encore choice, although it’s breakdown did allow the old trick of surfing into the crowd on a dinghy. Ich Will was more logical, but it again served to remind what was missing. Pretty much everything was redeemed, though, by a jaw-dropping Engel that finished things off, with Till donning a spectacularly huge pair of angel wings that shot jets of flame from each side. An old classic given the treatment it richly deserved.
So after a good few years away, it was marvellous to have them back. Am I planning on seeing them again at Sonisphere? Too right I am.
[Note: In a change to the usual, these photos were taken by my girlfriend, and obviously, being from such a distance weren’t quite to the quality we’d hoped for…]