So, Anita and I saw Rammstein on Wednesday night at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore. This was not the only awesome thing that happened on that day, but it made for a superb finale.
Rammstein specialize in Wagnerian excess. They opened with "Sonne" ("Sun" ... the chorus is "Here Comes the Sun") and if you're familiar with that song you know there's a chant of numbers during the chorus. With each "Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier!" the stage erupted with columns of fire hot enough that to me it felt like an oven blast, and Anita and I were not
very close to the stage, so I can only imagine what it was like for the front rows. But even before they started playing ... gosh, how to describe it. There were two stages, the big stage and a small in-the-round one in the middle of the
teeming mosh pit
floor. The band came out on the floor
in costumes, the bass player carrying a torch and and the keyboardist and drummer carrying flags (they entered from behind a hot dog stand, rather hilariously.) They ascended the small stage, then crossed a bridge that lowered from the ceiling to reach the big stage, where the bassist lit cauldrons to either side, all to the tune of ominous droning, thundering drums and sampled screams — before
the band launched into "Sonne."
Enough people have asked me how the concert was that I thought it might be worth reconstructing the set list. Let's see: actually, it looks like Wikipedia has it right, so I'm swiping their list and adding what I remember from each song.
- "Sonne" (Columns of fire in immense face-roasting blasts)
- "Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen" (The crowd chanting along with the chorus, "Rammstein! Rammstein!" Easy enough. Bursts of flame rose in spirals around lead singer Till.)
- "Keine Lust" (This one had an awkward moment: the crowd was supposed to chant the words "Ich hab' keine Lust, Ich hab' keine Lust, Ich hab' keine Lust" but it didn't sound like enough of us silly Americans knew the actual words. I was like... Huh! Why isn't he singing that part? ... OH! Some great head-banging action though.)
- "Sehnsucht" (The opening song from their most popular album (in America, that is.) If you're a big Rammstein fan, you'll know what I mean when I say the "Till hammer" was on prominent display.)
- "Asche zu Asche" (The guitarits' microphones and stands burst into flames.)
- "Feuer Frei!" (Singing with flamethrower masks on for the win!)
- "Mutter" (When Till screams "MUTTER!!" a blizzard of sparks fell on him and this continued through the entire bridge of the song)
- "Mein Teil" (Till emerged in a butcher's costume with a mic made to look like a machete. He brought a giant pot on to the stage that proved to have keyboardist Flake inside it (with a keyboard in there.) Till sprayed the pot with a flamethrower and when that seemed to do no damage he retrieved a larger flamethrower that completely engulfed the open-lidded(!) pot in flames several times over. Flake emerged with fireworks sparking from the seat of his pants and ran around the stage. At one point a firework rocket fired down from the ceiling and struck right in front of him. Anita and I wondered if that was supposed to happen. In addition to all this, hearing the entire crowd chant this one's aggressive chorus, translating as "You are what you eat and you know what that is," (the song's about a real-life cannibalism incident) is quite something.)
- "Du Riechst So Gut" (Anita thought Till looked very sexy when he brought out his pyrotechnic bow and arrow.)
- "Links 2-3-4" (This song really won me over, not because of any effects per se, but because of the goofy march the band was doing and how much fun you could tell they were having.)
- "Du Hast" (The crowd had no problem chanting along with this one, though there were giant lighting cues that helped.)
- "Haifisch" (Flake got on a raft and went surfing over the mosh pit. I worried for him for a little bit because the crowd wasn't following his directions, carrying him even further away when he was motioning to turn back. Someone threw a German flag into the raft with him and it looked like he thanked them. It all turned out okay. Whew!)
- "Bück Dich" (This was hilarious and bizarre. The band crossed the bridge again to the small stage for this, only they did so crawling on all fours in bondage gear, with drummer Christoph holding all their leashes while dressed in drag, and beating them with a
cat-o-nine tails crop when they weren't obedient. At one point later in the song Flake beat Till with what looked like a lit fluorescent bulb, then broke it over his head. The audience also got sprayed with fluid before this one was over.)
- "Mann Gegen Mann" (This is Rammstein's relatively straightforward song about being gay. ("Man against man / My skin belongs to the gentlemen") They performed it sans additional pyrotechnic stunts.)
- "Ohne Dich" (The band's only ballad, performed with smoke and blue columns of light. Nicely done.)
- "Mein Herz Brennt" (This kicked off the first encore. This bit blew me away: during the song's bridge I noticed that there was suddenly a bright "heart light" pulsing red on the singer's chest. Well, when he started to sing the chorus Till clutched his chest, and then he held up the glowing "heart" in one hand. And then it burst into flame, right there in his hand, so for a few seconds he was holding a fireball.)
- "Amerika" (Anita was SO HAPPY they did this song, red, white and blue confetti and all. Keyboardist Flake took the front of the stage, a cloud of confetti spraying from his keyboard. )
- "Ich Will" (A nice head-banging closer. Astonishingly, people began to leave after this song ended. You know, watching YouTube videos and reading reviews might have spoiled some of the concert's surprises for me ... BUT AT LEAST I KNEW TO STAY FOR THE SECOND ENCORE. Jeez!)
- "Engel" (From our angle, we could see that not only was Till wearing giant metal angel wings that spouted fire, but he also had a not so angelic tail. Nice touch, that.)
- "Pussy" (The singer rode a giant pink penis cannon that spewed white foam all over the people in the mosh pit. Need I say more?)
Believe it or not, I haven't listed everything that happened. There was more, folks.
Now, here's the thing about the age we live in. All you have to do is type in the name of any one of the songs I listed and "Baltimore" and you've find footage someone has uploaded of the performances from the very concert we went to. There's dozens and dozens of videos from it. Some are even close to the vantage point I had.
And it's great to watch those videos and think I was there!
They played for two hours solid and definitely delivered a show worth the money. After the last song the band stood in a row and in unison did a knightly down-on-one-knee bow to the audience and somehow it was the perfect ending.