Live Music + Gig Reviews

Rammstein @ Brixton Academy, London

5 February 2005

Rammstein As the waiting masses snake their way around the Brixton Academy, the air buzzes with excitement as fans of a certain industrial band are about to be treated to their first slice of live action in over four years.

Tell-tale signs of Rammstein’s grandeur are visible even outside the mammoth Academy, with no less than three generator tucks parked up to supply extra wattage to the German metallers.

Within the heaving walls, Apocalyptica are delighting many newfound fans with their unique renditions of metal standards like Enter Sandman and Fight Fire With Fire, played on cellos. Yes that’s right, the Swedish quartet are classically trained, and love nothing more than to slam out some old school Metallica upon their four-stringed orchestral instruments.

Although at first they are granted novelty appreciation, the sheer speed and dexterity required to mimic James Hetfield’s vocal lines with a bow, while reproducing Kirk Hammett’s lead wizardry, soon earns them utmost respect.

Leaving a much longer than necessary interval as a secret set is constructed, some fans seem unsure if they were right to part with double the dosh required for an album to see a band who are so consciously avoiding the stage. As the house lights disappear, so do any questions of the band living up to their legendary live reputation. In one glorious movement, the drapes are dropped and a stage set of Robot Wars proportions is revealed, complete with flames, hydraulic lifts and more metal than a scrap yard.

It is at this point that the purpose of attending a Rammstein show becomes clear. One does not come here for musical prowess (although they play a mean guitar), and unless your translation skills are up to scratch, you ain’t here to sing along. The sole purpose for attendance tonight is for the dramatic “wow” factor that so, so many bands sorely lack.

The language barrier is soon forgotten, with anyone unable to catch on audibly indulging in some seriously awesome visual theatre. Feuer Frei and the single Mein Teil are crowd favourites, even if the latter is an ode to cannibalism. What’s most noticeable from the rear of the venue, aside from the drunken skinheads who’ve latched onto the band in a poor attempt to be something less than thugs, is that there’s a severe lack of moshing occurring this evening. Even the jocks stop to stare in awe at the enormous scale of the pyrotechnics and special effects.

Amerika pulls out all the stops on this front, with ticker tape falling from high in red, white and blue streams, gas jets blowing silver confetti into the mix, while Till Lindemann adorns himself with a flame-throwing apparatus that’s straight out of Quake. Ich Will and Mutter are then played in quick succession, with the latter proving a welcome chorus sing along.

The inclusion of Rammstein’s tunes in films like XXX and The Matrix were perhaps the greatest breakthrough for the band outside of their homeland. It’ssurely for this reason that Du Hast is one of the thumping encores, with crowd and band singing inunison.

For anyone who missed the chance to see theatrics, heavy metal and a light show combined into a wonderful spectacle that would make Jean-Michel Jarre blush, the DVD would be a wise investment.

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Rammstein @ Brixton Academy, London