I had been to gigs in the past, obviously, but never one that simply had the word “floor” on the ticket instead of a seat number. I’d always stood up at previous gigs, out of necessity more than anything, but this was the first gig where there had been no option.
I had parked at the opposite end of Deansgate, to avoid any queues later on, and walked to the M.E.N. without exactly knowing where it was. I had walked around the general area a few months before, but had never found the flight of steps that I had always seen on TV when news reporters had covered Madonna concerts in the past.
We had to wait about half an hour before the doors opened, then had to wait about the same about of time with an orange band around my wrist that granted me access to the hollowed shrine that was the “floor”.
For some ungodly reason we were told to sit, cross legged, on our chosen spot. Mine was about 25 feet, no I don’t know what that is in metres, from the front of the stage directly in the centre. Of course no sooner had I sat down than we all had to stand up again. This is no doubt a cunning ploy by the security staff to make us look like primary school children.
The stage was relatively empty except four throne-like chairs and a minimal drum kit. Long gone are the days when the drum-riser, a little two and a half foot platform that the drum kit resided upon, contained every drum, drum-pad, cymbal and gong ever manufactured. Of course those were the days of the drum solo. The time during a concert that allowed the other members of the band to shower, change clothes, have something to eat, another beer, fulfil the dreams and desires of three or more groupies, and still have time to make it back to the stage. If you don’t remember ask your father or watch the Spinal Tap DVD’s.
The lights dimmed, a mild cheer went up and Apocalyptica walked on the stage. Four cello players and a live drummer.
You know it’s loud when you can feel the bass drum rattling the valves in your heart. I don’t think that anyone spotted the cello player that wasn’t a full time member of Apocalyptica (sarcasm, come on in). They sounded great doing their version of ‘Master Of Puppets’ with everyone singing along, but during their own compositions we really didn’t know what to make of them. When they originally started out they were seen as something of a one trick pony, a novelty act, playing Metallica songs on cellos who would have thought it! I read somewhere on the internet, so that narrows it down, that a classically trained cello player doesn’t rate them very highly at all, but they sounded competent enough to these ears. I had heard their music before the concert and was kind of pleased, and a little bemused, that Rammstein had chosen them as support.
So to the main event.
After, what seemed like an eternity, listening to this weird industrial drone, four members, of what must be their road crew, walked on stage. They were dressed like Rammstein in some of the promotion pictures for the new album, black trousers, white short-sleeved shirts black ties and black rimmed glasses. A few were shining torches into the audience the rest just held baseball bats. The band started playing Reise Reise then the curtain dropped and everyone went ape-shit, including this writer. Then Till appeared from a door underneath the drum riser. You really have to checkout Ross Halfin’s pictures of Rammstein for this tour to see what the stage and the band looked like. The next song was Links 2 3 4, a song which I think is brilliant so I was in seventh heaven. Towards the end of Feuer Frei! members of the road crew put the fire masks on Till, Richard and Paul. The Manchester branch of the Health and Safety department must have had kittens.
A few songs down the running order was the first single off the album, Mein Teil. We all knew what was going to happen but that never prepared us for the spectacle itself. Till, dressed like a manic butcher/chef, pushed a huge cooking pot through the doors underneath the drum-kit. No guesses as to who was inside, wearing only a pair of shorts and covered in gravy browning. There was a small keyboard attached to the side of the pot if you need another clue. Till had blood smeared around his mouth and he took the lid from the pot and threw it onto the stage which allowed all the ‘steam’ to flow over the sides. He wandered over to the right-hand side of the stage, sharping a large knife, which conveniently was sticking out of his microphone. As soon as Till turned his back Flake, the keyboard player, sheepishly popped his head above the rim of the pot and started to play. He was always on his guard and would duck back down into the pot whenever Till turned around. With good reason. Towards the end of the song a member of the road-crew handed Till a flame thrower. Everyone in the audience gasped, and we knew what was coming don’t forget. He shot a jet of flame about 15 feet across the stage aiming it at the base of the pot. The flames then completely engulfed the pot which still contained poor Flake, he popped his head up again and just managed to duck down again before the next ball of fire curled around the vessel. This happened at least three times before Flake, rather gingerly I noticed, grabbed the handle on the side of the pot and jumped out. How he managed to breathe under all the dry-ice I don’t know. Flake always seemed to duck down just in time. I was impressed, and at my time of life that doesn’t happen very often.
- Set List
- Reise Reise
- Links 2 3 4
- Keine lust
- Feuer Frei!
- Rein Raus
- Mein Teil
- Stein um Stein
- Du Riechst so gut
- Du hast
- First Encore
- Ich will
- Final Encore
- Ohne dich
They played all of my favourite songs, except Bück Dich, which is why I was a safe 25 feet from the stage. They even played Los, with the drummer Christoph coming down on one of the hydraulic platforms (did I not mention those) to play on a smaller drum kit on the right of the stage. I can see why some fans possibly don’t like it but it does just have the heaviest groove that I’ve heard in years.
There were bombs, flames, Flake on his Segway and the red, white and blue confetti cannons during Amerika. I was covered. Oliver was the one who had a ride in the dingy this time and I helped. Thankfully it wasn’t Till. More sparks, flames and fireworks later they finished the show with Stripped. It’s not a song that I like all that much, but hey I was close enough at a Rammstein show to see the whites of Till Lindemann’s eyes. But far enough away to enjoy the spectacle of it all. All the songs were note perfect and everything went with the usual precision that we would have expected.
One thing that did puzzle me, apart from how Flake can breath under dry ice, is why certain members of the audience were not as ‘into it’ as I was. I was bouncing up and down and singing along, even though I don’t know all the lyrics and can’t even speak german, let alone sing it. One chap in front of me didn’t sing, didn’t move even. He just seemed to be ‘too cool for school’, with his black outfit and his spiked black hair. He probably didn’t want to look stupid in front of his mates, which is why I went on my own. It was never like that at Woodstock. I can’t wait for Live Aus Berlin 2.