Monday, 8 February 2010

Rammstein, Combichrist at Wembley Arena 4 February 2010


I’m standing amidst a vast army of giants, most of who are dressed in black, many of whom have more metal in their faces than Old Man Steptoe had in his scrap yard.

Barfly on Tuesday, Wembley Arena on Thursday. We sure get around.

The evening gets underway with the furious two drum kit assault of ex-pat Norwegians Combichrist. Completing a triptych of muscle bound torsos is a keyboard player who has sculpted his hair and beard until he precisely resembles a medieval devil. The three hammer and writhe and wrestle with their equipment.

In front of them struts Combichrist’s singer and founder member Andy LaPlegua, marching around the stage to the martial beat in his role of master of ceremonies. He attempts to interact with the crowd – “Every one say ‘Fuck That Shit!’” he orders. The crowd are rather unresponsive. They don’t seem to mind That Shit.

The band thunder along in happy fashion. It’s like being run over by a truck, but a truck with some quite good tunes.

Combichrist are of course merely the hors d’oeuvre for the sumptuously overblown main course that is to follow. Rammstein are back in town and once again prove that when it comes to delivering ridiculously over the top spectacle, that they have no equal.

The stage is dominated by four huge and incredibly mobile light rigs that hover over the band. The whole vibe tonight is that of a foundry designed by H.R. Geiger.

Rammstein take the same simple pleasure in fire that small children do with mud. They can’t resist playing with it. So tonight at various points we get singer Till Lindemann setting a stagehand on fire with a flamethrower, pouring a canister of molten cinders over keyboard player (and excellent comic foil) Christian Lorenz and more random gouts and whooshes of fire than a hot night in Hades. I’m stood half a mile away and can feel the heat on my face.

We also get to enjoy strings of detonating babies with green laser eyes, many explosions, the coating of much of the audience in foam and a foray out over the crowd in a dinghy. Ah – but what about the music?

Rammstein are as camp as a row of tents, but play perfectly straight. They sing almost exclusively in guttural German, and no language is better suited to this driving, pounding, majestic music. The crowd roar and make devil signs throughout.

New album “Liebe ist für alle da” is heavily plugged, the best song from it tonight being the opener ‘Rammlied’ which gives everyone a chance to yell and roll their ‘R’s’ a lot. Old favourites such as ‘Benzene’ also get an airing and it is during this number that a stuntman is carelessly immolated.

Rammstein roar on and on. It is all magnificent, but also slightly wearing. There is little light and shade, it is just bigger, faster, louder. The law of diminishing returns sets in. When Lindemann appears for the encore as an angel gouting sheets of fire from a ten foot wingspan, this is actually slightly disappointing. Rammstein have become victims of their own excess.

What Rammstein deliver is red hot entertainment. Tickets tonight are £50 and upwards, yet you can see where every penny went. To recreate what they do any cheaper would mean pouring gasoline over yourself while smoking a cigarette next to a pneumatic drill. I’m happy to leave it to the professionals.

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