|Mediocre photos by me taken with my Droid.|
A while ago I promised my good buddy Schneider Weisse that I would go with him to see his favorite band, the German metal industrial band Rammstein, if they ever toured North America, which they rarely do. Last summer they played a festival in Quebec City, but neither of us could make the show. This past December Rammstein played in the US for the first time since 2001. They did only one show, at Madison Square Garden, and it sold out in about four minutes or something ridiculous like that. Schneider Weisse somehow got a ticket and flew from Toronto to NYC for the weekend for the show (review of the NYC show from Spin). I wanted to go, but I was in the middle of trying to get my shit together to move to Boston and couldn't pull it off.
Since the Quebec and New York Cities shows went so well, Rammstein must have decided to do a mini North American tour, and in early 2011 announced that they were playing six US, three Canadian, and four Mexican dates in the spring of 2011. Fortunately, one of those dates was at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, within stumbling of Schneider Weisse's condo. So I booked a flight and got my sorry ass to Toronto for the May 8 weekend.
The Air Canada Centre was nearly sold out, and we had perfect seats just off of the floor facing the stage. German industrial metal bands will always attract it's share of goths, chicks in short skirts and fishnet stockings, dudes in black skirts and combat boots, and enough black lipstick and nail polish to paint a hearse (on both the chicks and the dudes). But I was really impressed that Rammstein attracted fans of all ages. While the kids mostly stayed in the pit area - the ACC's floor was cleared of chairs so people could mosh - my section had a wide range of ages, within plus or minus 20 years of 35, I would guess. Leader singer/entertainer Till Lindemann is 48 years old. My crew of simps (Rockstar Aimz, Schneider Weisse, Haifisch, Warlock, and Paul) averaged around age 35. Haifisch, who is a native of Germany and has two daughters in their late teens/early 20s, commented, "This is a much better Mother's Day present than toast in bed." Yah!!!
Someone like me who isn't overly familiar with Rammstein's music, except for their only North American hit, 1997's "Du Hast," attends these type of concerts for one reason: to be entertained. In others words, for the pyro. Both Lindemann and keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz are licensed pyrotechnicians, and work with designers to set up pryo, lights, and other effects for their shows. And the pyro did not disappoint. There were giant flames from the stage, fire coming out of metal wings on Lindemann's back, flares blaring out of the end of Lindemann's big-ass bazooka, fireworks, sparks on wires flaming out over the audience, flames from the top and the bottom of the stage. We were on the far side opposite the stage and we could feel the heat from the pyro. The performers and the kids in the pit must has been cooking!
Rammstein is also know for their stage props and other theatrics. This tour included Lindemann throwing Lorenz into a basin and torching him from above, only to have Lorenz crawl out of the basin wearing a head-to-toe gold sparkling jumpsuit. Lorenz then scampered back up to his keyboards and spent the rest of the show walking to the beat on a rotating treadmill ("Flake" must be in incredible shape). Lindemann also torched a "fan" who "ran" onto the stage, and towards the end of the main set, boarded a giant penis and blew foam at the fans, some of which made it all the way back to our section. During the first encore Lorenz in his jumpsuit boarded an inflatable raft and "sailed" out into the audience. As the fans pushed him along, Lorenz hoisted a big Canadian flag, much to the crowd's delight. Don't worry, the flag wasn't torched. Maybe they saved the flag torching for the American shows? That was a joke people.
Pyro, props, and theatrics are all well and good Aimz, but what about the music? Rammstein played about half of their set from the 2009 album Liebe Ist Für Alle Da . (Translation = There Is Love for Everyone) They sounded AWESOME. From the minute the guitars chopped through the backdrop during the opening song, to the metronome-like timing and pounding by the drummer, and the keyboards tying every song together: the band was tight and focused. Other reviewers mentioned that they had a hard time hearing Lindemann's deep baritone voice, but from my vantage point he sounded wundebar. I could hear him rrrrroll every "R." At one point Lindemann sang a solo with just an acoustic guitar backing him (can't remember which song). An acoustic guitar at a metal show, you ask? Of course! That's how you score with the chicks!
I was also blown away by the knowledgeable crowd. Considering that a vast majority of the crowd presumably did not speak German, it was incredibly impressive how the audience knew the music. Basically, the only non-German Lindemann said the entire night was, "Sank you Toronto. Merci beaucoup." During the aforementioned "Du Hast," the crowd essentially sang the song back to the band. That has to be something pretty special for Rammstein, having 14,000 non-German speakers on a different continent sing a 14-year-old hit back to you in German. Check it out:
I was completely entertained for the 100 minute show. I even threw in a few fist pumps and devil horns. It's not a show I will see on every subsequent tour (that is, if they have more North American dates before 2021), but I highly recommend a Rammstein gig not only for the pyro and stage show, but also for the killer metal. "Other bands play, Rammstein burns!"
3. Waidmanns Heil
4. Keine Lust
5. Weisses Fleisch
6. Feuer Frei!
7. Wiener Blut.mp3
Buy: Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (Deluxe edition, 2009)
8. Frühling un París
9. Ich tu dir weh
10. Du Riescht so gut
12. Links 234
13. Du Hast
Buy: Mutter (2009)
17. Ich Will
Combichrist opened the show with a 30 minute set, and since it took forever to get through the Air Canada Centre security pat-down, I only saw their last song, where they tipped over their drums sets and smashed their shit. Rock on! Their PR people did send me their latest ultra-violent, extra-boobies video for the song "Throat of Glass," which has a very Nine Inch Nails vibe. Needless to say, the video is not safe for work. Watch the uncensored version here.
Check out these killer photos of the show by Tom Pandi.