There are no less than ten trucks crammed into The O2’s loading bay tonight; the German hauliers’ details emblazoned on their sides leaving little doubt as to whose cargo they’ve transported here. Around them, a swarm of meticulously turned-out crew members – complete with hard hats and hi-vis vests – are hard at work in a scene straight out of a H&S officer’s wet dream. Inside the cavernous venue, aluminium platforms, hefty gantries and a web of pulleys emanating from the stage pique the imagination: Rammstein‘s live shows are the stuff of legend and, with this being their first ever Irish appearance, there’s a heaving mass of hardcore fans waiting in anticipation.
The lights dim and all eyes are fixed on the stage, but the band don’t materialise there. Instead, a flaming torch held aloft can be spied from the side of the arena as Rammstein circle the crowd and climb onto a platform at the rear – the procession then making its way to the front upon a smoking gangway that has descended from the roof. Till Lindemann’s throaty countdown preps the crowd for what’s about to come, and then the piledriving riff of ‘Sonne’ strikes them like a panzerschreck. It’s that fierce.
With the band touring to promote their greatest hits album, Made In Germany: 1995-2011, tonight’s setlist is full of fan favourites. ‘Asche Zu Asche’, ‘Feuer Frei’, ‘Du Riechst So Gut’, ‘Du Hast’ and a long list of other signature tunes feature in a performance devoid of weak points and bursting with thunderous guitars, growling synths and seismic drumbeats.
It’s not just the sheer heaviness of the music that overwhelms the fans, though – it’s the spectacle that accompanies it. There are shooting flames and pyrotechnic explosions aplenty, whether it’s from the burners dotted around the stage or from the flamethrowing masks worn by Paul Landers and Richard Kruspe. The heat is so intense it can be felt at the very back of the arena. Then there’s the glitter and foam cannons, industrial spotlights, Lindemann spewing Pernod over the crowd with a certain prosthetic appendage… not to mention the antics of keyboardist Flake, who plays his instruments whilst walking on a treadmill, crowdsurfs in an inflatable dinghy and get’s ‘boiled alive’ in a giant pot during ‘Mein Teil’. Rammstein even decamp to the platform at the back for a spell, traversing the same gangway (chained, ball-gagged and on their knees, no less) used for their entrance. Here they continue their aural assault, unleashing a salvo that includes ‘Ohne Dich’ and ‘Mann Gegen Mann’.
It takes two encores to sate people’s hunger for more, and Rammstein continue to deliver in style – ‘Amerika’ and ‘Ich Will’ followed by ‘Engel’, which sees Lindemann return wearing a pair of flaming angel wings. As you do. Then there’s one final opportunity to indulge in this fantastically twisted, fiery circus as the group say farewell with ‘Pussy’, before they stand in silence and bow. Hardly a single word has been uttered to the crowd all night, nor was it required. As the dust settles and the stench of sweat, cordite and kerosene dissipates, cries of that terribly over-used line “best gig ever!” can be heard. On this occasion, however, it’s hard to disagree.
Photos: Kieran Frost