May 2017 18

Rammstein

 

It is very difficult, or perhaps even impossible to express in words the sense of adulation, the near orgasmic thrill that one feels having experienced a live performance that surpasses in the presentation of audio and visual stimuli so massive that it sets a benchmark of excellence toward which all should aspire. Those who have had the good fortune of attending one of Rammstein’s legendary concerts will know exactly what that means. The group’s repertoire blends elements of industrial clamor, heavy metal aggression, melodic catchiness, and electronic dance into a style that, while often characterized as Neue Deutsch Härte (New German Hardness) or even more simply industrial/metal, the band has crafted into something that is very distinctly its own. Such music almost necessitates an equally dynamic live presentation, so it’s no wonder that the East German sextet has spent two decades constantly upping the ante and creating a concert experience that has rightfully been heralded as one of the world’s most theatrically expansive and most entertainingly over-the-top live shows.

 

During the European leg of the 2012 Made in Germany 1995-2011 Tour, Rammstein performed at the Palais Omnisports Arena in Paris on March 6 and 7, delivering to the French audience over 20 of the band’s most beloved hits in an audio/visual extravaganza beyond measure. Capturing these two monumental shows was renowned director Jonas Åkerlund, utilizing almost 30 cameras to offer fans a concert video whose scope does well to reach the heights of excellence that Rammstein and its audience should expect. With past live release like Live aus Berlin and Völkerball, some might question the validity of RAMMSTEIN:PARIS and if one more live album or DVD is truly necessary as no recording could ever truly match the exhilaration of actually having been there… but given the amount of care and dedication Åkerlund and his team have clearly devoted to this presentation, not just to capture multiple angles and offer excellent sound, but to augment with clever editing the visceral nature of seeing and hearing Rammstein onstage. In short, RAMMSTEIN:PARIS is more than just another live album/video… it might actually be the best audio/visual document of one of this generation’s hardest working, hardest hitting musical groups.

 
Rammstein
 

An almost robotic klaxon sirens through the arena, which along with the chants and howls of the sea of devoted Rammstein fans creates a deafening roar of noise… one immediately gets a sense of a political rally held in a mechanized industrial factory. Then the smoke starts to clear as a steel ramp lowers and the band marches outward toward the A-stage with all the vehemence and majesty of a monarchial procession, torches and flags in hand. Each band member is decked out in his own individual regalia, finally lining up onstage and standing before their reverent and adoring subjects like the German titans they are, with vocalist Till Lindemann easily the most imposing and intimidating figure, microphones strapped like ammo packs. His deep and guttural voice begins the count as the rest of the band take their positions, ready to begin the sonic bombardment as “Sonne” hits the crowd with all the force of an explosive blast. Lindemann even relinquishes the vocal duties to the audience, allowing them to cheer the lyrics as he stands before like a proud warrior king. This becomes a regular practice throughout the show, with Lindemann as animated as ever and still hitting those operatic melodies as keenly as ever.

 

 

Indeed, each band member shines in their respective roles and takes their own moments in the spotlight, with guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers flanking the stage with all the force of a front line assault as their pummeling riffs along with Kruspe’s incendiary solos battering the audience viciously… and boy, does the audience just love it! The same can be said for the rhythm section, with Christoph Schneider demonstrating his skills not only as a drummer but as a showman – decked out in chainmail, his brute power is a marvel unto itself, not only keeping time and volume with the programmed rhythms and sequences and providing that necessary “oomph” that amplifies every strum of the guitar, but also in being visually arresting even behind the drum kit. In contrast, bassist Oliver Riedel relegates himself to the background, content to allow his simple but thunderous bass lines to provide the groove and pulse; as understated as he is, one gets the impression he is the heartbeat upon which every other organic musical element relies, making his few standout moments of lead melody lines all the more satisfying. And then there is the Doktor, Christian Lorenz – a.k.a. Flake – on keyboards, and if his proficiency in handling the background programs and performing the electronic elements of the songs isn’t striking enough, then his flamboyant suit and bodily gyrations, dance moves, and treadmill marching certainly are.

 

 

Not enough can be said of Rammstein’s professionalism and humor. As each song proceeds, they all begin to shed layers of clothing, sweating profusely, and clearly expelling as much energy as the most well trained athlete… and never at any point does anyone show overt signs of fatigue. Sure, some might detect a sense of wear in Lindemann’s performance as his slower movements might lack in the fist pumping, head banging thrashing that audiences might be used to (let’s face it, he was less-than-a-year shy of 50 when this show was shot), this writer feels it was more a result of being overwhelmed at so massive an audience, the intensity of their adulation and the music feeding back into each other brilliantly. Kruspe and Landers are an excellent team onstage, playing side-by-side like a well oiled unit and always showing great enthusiasm in each note and riff, while the interplay between Lindemann and Lorenz almost reaches a level of burlesque pantomime that the pair clearly enjoys. For instance, during a seething high note in “Feuer Frei!,” Lindemann feigns discomfort as he clenches his ears, then proceeding to hit Lorenz’s leg to make him stop; after a moment, Lorenz drops from the riser to kick Lindemann’s ass in time with the beat, his spastic motion nothing short of cartoonish. Later, during “Mein Teil,” the now blood spattered vocalist emerges from the center of the stage wearing a chef’s hat and a butcher’s apron, pushing a giant steaming pot, his mic now a giant blade. Lorenz emerges from the pot with a keyboard, Lindemann even curtsying and dancing daintily during the song’s second verse before proceeding to fire the pot up with flame throwers. Lorenz hops in and out of the pot, taunting the singer until finally jumping out and running about the stage with sparks flying from his rear; it’s a visual befitting a Looney Tunes cartoon.

 
Rammstein
 

Oh, the pyrotechnics… of course, one simply can’t speak of a Rammstein show without mentioning them, and they are indeed something to behold. Kruspe and Landers brandish neck and facial apparatuses to shoot sparks and flames, their guitars even catching fire during the solo and breakdown of “Du Riechst So Gut.” At one point, Lindemann waves his arms around, sparks flying to create a spectacular flurry of burning light, but it is the massive wings on fire during “Engel” that present one of the show’s most vibrant and impressive images, the crowd shouting the last line of the chorus while the front man stands like an industrial deity manifest in metal and flame.

 

 

And then, there are the kinkier aspects to Rammstein’s music, best represented by the song “Bück Dich.” Kruspe takes to the B-stage to perform an ambient and rhythmic keyboard interlude as the ramp lowers to reveal Schneider in a blonde wig, leading the band like dogs on leashes to the stage, whipping them mercilessly to make for quite an arresting spectacle of BDSM debauchery. The sea of fans surrounding the band on the smaller B-stage, Lindemann takes over the dominant role, kicking the ballgagged Lorenz around before revealing a hosed dildo from his pants, spraying both band and audience to make for a grand decadent display. “Pussy,” by contrast is more straightforward as the front man generally stands still throughout most of the song, his whimsical expressions and hand motions taking prominence until he flails into a rage for the breakdown, finally straddling a phallic cannon that shoots foam out onto the crowd.

 

It must again be stated that one of RAMMSTEIN:PARIS‘ strongest aspects is in the video editing, which is easily as energetic, frenetic, and perfectly timed as the music; even as footage from different points of the show is interspersed, it only adds to the dynamism of the presentation, ensuring that the concert is just as incredible to view on a screen as it must have been for the people in the crowd. Each song is given its own special title card animation, as if to emphasize them as their own musical entities. It’s as if each song was its own music video – the use of reflective/mirror images in “Mann Gegen Mann,” quick cuts during the glitch-laden solo to “Engel” to mimic the song’s energy, the surreal effect of the crowd noise dropping out of the audio during Lorenz’s sailing among them in an inflatable raft during “Haifisch,” lightning animations emanating from his hands during the keyboard solos to “Du Hast,” and even some specially shot non-live footage of the band in rapid motion cuts to add to the hellish mania of “Asche zu Asche.” With a seasoned veteran and visionary like Jonas Åkerlund at the helm, it is perhaps no wonder that RAMMSTEIN:PARIS is as stunning to watch as it is.

 

Originally screened as a limited theatrical release, RAMMSTEIN:PARIS is now available as a double live CD, standard DVD and Blu-ray formats, along with some special editions that include two-disc CD, a limited “metal” edition with dual CD and Blu-ray, and a deluxe boxset with four vinyl LPs, two CDs, and Blu-ray.

 

Track list:

  1. Intro
  2. Sonne
  3. Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen?
  4. Keine Lust
  5. Sehnsucht
  6. Asche zu Asche
  7. Feuer Frei!
  8. Mutter
  9. Mein Teil
  10. Du Riechst So Gut
  11. Links 2-3-4
  12. Du Hast
  13. Haifisch
  14. Bück Dich
  15. Mann Gegen Mann
  16. Ohne Dich
  17. Mein Herz Brennt
  18. Amerika
  19. Ich Will
  20. Engel
  21. Pussy
  22. Frühling in Paris

 

Rammstein
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, RAMMSTEIN:PARIS Website
Jonas Åkerlund
Website
Spinefarm Records
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Universal Music Group
Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon DVD (Standard Edition)
Amazon Blu-ray (Standard Edition)
Amazon Blu-ray/CD (Special Edition)
Amazon Blu-ray/Vinyl/CD Box Set (Deluxe Edition)

 

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