It is suddenly surprisingly quiet and contemplative that evening at the first of two Rammstein shows in the Berlin Olympic Stadium. The band has just said goodbye with the usual flame magic as an accompaniment to their song “Sonne” with a “thank you”, the main part of the concert is over, the encores are due, and the action shifts to the middle of the stadium.
Here is a small stage with a piano, on which the Rammstein musicians gather to sing “Engel” with their opening act, the French pianist duo Jatekok.
The audience holds their smartphones up, all the lights on, and joins the band in singing, “It’s not until the clouds go to sleep / Can you see us in the sky / We’re scared and alone / God knows I don’t want to be an angel .”
This is undoubtedly beautiful and reconciled with a show that is of course perfectly choreographed and leaves no room for spontaneity, no element of surprise. As is well known, a Rammstein performance is not a typical rock concert.
This is already demonstrated by the announcement at the beginning shortly after half past eight, when the sun is far from setting over Berlin. It’s starting now, please turn off your smartphones and refrain from taking pictures. A joke, of course. Because that’s exactly what the almost 70,000 spectators don’t care about at all. Where, if not at a Rammstein concert, can you take nicer pictures and shoot more impressive videos?
After the evocative Handel intro “Music for the Royal Fireworks” it starts with “Armee der Tristen”, the opening song of the new album “Zeit”.
This is the album with which Till Lindemann and his family passed the time of the corona pandemic, the time when the concerts in the Olympic Stadium had to be postponed twice. The band plays several songs from “Zeit”.
The album is the bracket that holds this show together and last but not least insinuates that it may have rammed itself out in the future: the album ends with “Adieu”, the concert ends with a roar from Lindemann “Die time with you was beautiful”. . That may apply to the past two hours, but it could also indicate an end.
But first of all, on this radiantly beautiful early summer evening, which rather mocks a Rammstein performance, it is important to get the audience in the right mood with the notorious, jagged doubled metal riffs of guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers, the dull bass/drums beats of Oliver Riedel and Christoph Schneider as well as the Lindemann lines “Come with / line up / come with / in step”.
This song is a variation of Lindemann’s poem “The Army of Sad People”, which tells of the happiness of being sad together. There can be no question of that here: The evening is pure happiness. The synchronization between audience and band is obvious, no extra invitation is needed for that.
The audience mostly wears black, in all shades, hardly anyone who hasn’t slipped on their Rammstein T-shirt. From the beginning it claps along with the line, just like it did with Heinz Schenk, Gott and Till Lindemann saved him.
It goes straight through the Rammstein factory: after “Armee der Tristen” follows “Zigzack”, also from “Zeit”, the song about the beauty madness of our time. This is followed by “Links 2 3 4”, the piece with which Rammstein countered the accusation of being a right-wing band more than twenty years ago. It continues with “Sehnsucht”, “Puppe” or “Heirate mich”, a song from the 1996 debut album “Herzeleid”.
With the twilight and the onset of darkness, the fire interludes also become more intense. The fire fountains rise here in front of the stage, the doll’s pram catches fire there; Keyboarder Flake is also shot at with a flamethrower again. Rammstein repertoire.
As befits such booth magic and fire bombast, the intricacies of the role prose and the targeted provocations are completely lost, everything that has characterized the band since its founding in the mid-nineties.
The “Germany” song, which became a scandal because of a clip in which the band members could be seen as concentration camp prisoners, is first performed by Kruspe as a techno version, only then does the band come. Afterwards, four black and white illuminated figures can be seen standing side by side on the stage. That could be macabre if, as it looks, you couldn’t understand it as a quote from the power plant.
It’s a calculated game, indifference remains trump with Rammstein – always at the risk of drifting off into mere nonsense, especially in live shows, into emptying of meaning: from the strange cathedral-like stage structure to Lindemann’s sci-fi fighter gap and Co to the three inflatable boats. The Rammstein musicians climb into these after the “Engel” performance in order to be carried back to the main stage by the hands of the audience.
Was it that with Rammstein, because of “Adieu”? You can’t even imagine it. Such a show can actually be played until the end of the day, without new songs, it can be preserved nicely. And what band can play a song like “Sonne” with lines like “Here comes the sun, it’s the brightest star of all” when it’s just set?