Some Thoughts on Rammstein Live in Copenhagen
Except for the fact that it wasn’t on fire, the giant, pink, inflatable penis being flapped by someone front and center in the VIP section summed up the evening. Its hairless testicles were comparatively tiny (scaled down 1:1 to a size that could have been hung on a human, they would have been microscopic). When, damaged by the battering it was doing, the giant, pink, inflatable penis began to wilt, its owner released it into the wild. The penis bounced from amused concert goer to amused concert goer down on the floor of the stadium, growing ever limper. No one took it upon himself to put his lips on it and blow it back up to health. Eventually, entirely shriveled and pathetically flaccid, it hit a woman who went eh? and dropped it onto the ground and that was the last that was seen of it. It never rose again.
The official floor show was also interesting. Lots of flame throwing and fireworks.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Do you know Rammstein? They’re their own category of thing. When people ask me what sort of music they play, I never know what to say. Cabaret metal, meaning heavy metal but harder, louder, and deeper and without the idiotic guitar solos but with added elements of disco, electronica, cabaret, and epic theater, maybe. Also they can be very, very funny, in ways that you can’t quite decide if they’re making fun of extreme masculinity or celebrating it (or having their cake and eating it too). Their favorite song topic (outside of inappropriate hilarity from the point of view of the German guy who, ten or fifteen or so years ago, decided he wanted another guy to cook him and eat him) is all the utterly horrible but also just stupid things men are driven to do by their pathetic need to have sex, full stop, and/or power over other people. You know, like lock their daughter in the cellar, or embark upon a loving relationship with a corpse rotting in the crypt, or molest choirboys in the name of God, or drive to brothels in countries with lax regulations because outside of that, no woman Earth is going to have sex with them.
See, for example, most songs on their 2009 album Liebe ist für alle da, which for me is their album almost entirely devoted to the dumb things that men do because really deep down inside they’re just beasts. There’s a hilariously over the top song sung by a dom man gleefully detailing the ridiculously sadistic things he does to his sub (whom I have always taken to be male, perhaps because of the line about inserting the rodent). There’s a song sung by a hunter who totally gets off on killing things. There is a really stupid (IMHO) song about a guy who is stereotypically inflamed by French women speaking French in Paris. There’s the song about the loser who goes abroad to visit prostitutes because nobody else will have sex with him. There’s a song about a guy who is sad because everybody else gets to have sex but he doesn’t but then he figures out that he can trap a woman somewhere where no one can hear her crying and then do whatever he wants to her. And there’s two versions (including one melodramatically accompanied by a full orchestra) about a guy who dies in a duel over the love of a woman. There are a few other songs, too, often very clever and not about how shitty men are, but still, a band full of women could not have released that album. Everyone would have screamed, Manhaters!!!! But it was Rammstein, so guys were just, FUCK… YEAH!
Which is all to say, yes, the show had explosions.
The show had a giant baby carriage with a disturbingly familiar looking (but I have still not yet placed it) overgrown baby inside bursting into flames. (No flames in my photo, alas.) (Now I am thinking: Was this a prop that was used in a previous concert I have watched the video of? That is a strong possibility.)
The show had the lead singer attempting to cook the keyboard player in a cauldron so he could eat him then, when that failed to boil him, dousing him in flames from a small flame thrower, then a medium sized flame thrower, then a Howitzer-sized flame thrower all while the guitar player who was standing right there right beside all this not wearing a fire suit utterly failed to flinch or be thrown off even momentarily from his riffs.
The show even had gigantic centric diatoms.
(OK, not really. But some of you (you know who you are) just smiled, didn’t you?) Also, yeah, in the background there, that is the giant stack of speakers involved in the evening’s excessive generation of sound.
As in, the show was LOUD. Like we were sitting in the upper back corner of the stadium and I was wearing industrial, foam earplugs and it still hurt kind of loud. Next time I will spend megabucks on real earplugs meant for listening to concerts and maybe wear headphones over them as well. And that’s my only real criticism of the show: Dudes! Turn down the bass drum and bass guitar! A TON! OR TWO! Several hours of your music is way more enjoyable if it doesn’t cause PAIN. (On the other hand, anyone suffering cardiac arrest would have automatically received chest compressions from the thumping, so perhaps you all just saw this as a public service?)
To give you a sense of what I had to go through, here is just the first few seconds of the concert, which unfolded as the band members were appearing one by one out on stage. The bass drum sounds distorted and crappy, but that’s not the fault of my shitty little camera. It was so loud it came out of the speakers totally overblown. (Honestly, fellows, what were you thinking, setting the levels like that???) Also, imagine that drum beat performing those life saving chest compressions on you and that’s what it was like to be there.
But the best part of the show though was the disco that broke out in about the middle of the evening. The lead singer disappeared for five minutes (the poor guy deserved the break… it’s hard work doing all that singing and shouting and all that hefting of pyrotechnical stuff) and one of the guitar players donned a ridiculous white feather overcoat and sunglasses, took his place in front of a mixing board, and ascended perhaps twenty meters into the air and started to play Rammstein music as disco/electronica/house. Below him, on stage, the other guitar player, the drummer, the bass player , and the keyboard player put on baggy black suits with hoods that suddenly lit up to show them as stick figures. These hard core heavy music men who look like you wouldn’t want to run into them in a dark alley late at night then danced a routine. You know, like Madonna or Britney (etc) and her backup dancers would. Except they were not perfectly synchronized and there were no pointed toes nor limbs lifted with exactness and discipline. It was great! More the band poking fun at themselves than at the female world of super slick pop music performance. Really.
Also note how that crowd is raging (even if the giant, pink, inflatable penis with hairless microscopic testicles was at this point, long gone).
The most shocking thing about the evening was that Rammstein is now an older person’s band. There did not appear to be a single teenager in attendance, nor a single ten year old accompanied by his mother (like you might have once found at a Slipknot concert). Most people were in their late 20’s to mid 50’s (i.e. just about everyone was old enough to know better). And how old school was this crowd? Note the following photo of the obligatory heavy metal get out your cigarette lighter moment:
Those are actual cigarette lighters, not lights on smartphones. Fucking dinosaurs, all! Some of those people holding up open flames in front of us did not even smoke a single cigarette during the proceedings (unlike the woman directly in front of me (that dyed black head of hair right there in the lower center of the photo), who was trying to kill me by chain smoking).
All in all, I wish I’d been down there on the floor where all the action was. That must have been GREAT! While I appreciate the band’s attempts to make the show interesting to everyone by having humongous props and lots of things that went BOOM!, it was still too disconnected from it all being back in the corner of the stadium, even only halfway up to the nosebleed seats. I could have felt more immersed if I’d stayed at home and watched some of the official video footage from some of their older concerts.
The band also performed very much as performers, instead of as musicians. Which isn’t to say that they were anything other than musically flawless. They were absolutely a machine in that regard. But they were performing for the audience as a well-prepared, well-rehearsed, highly oiled, theatrical multi-media show. It was not Rammstein but the French (why does it always have to be French?) women/classically trained musicians who played Rammstein songs excruciatingly transcribed for two pianos (sorry, no matter how fantastic and even respectably musical Rammstein songs are, they are not made to be played classical style on the piano, or really, on the piano at all) who performed as musicians. But not Rammstein. So if you went to this concert expecting to see a piece of the performers themselves, you did not. You saw their show. But maybe this is just nit-picking. (It was quite a show!)
In the end, I walked away (quickly because we had 3 miles to walk across town in the middle of a thunderstorm/downpour to get to the train station before the last train to Roskilde, which was where we were spending the night) mainly wondering how much each show cost to put on. And I don’t mean in terms of renting the stadium, I mean in terms of paying for the gunpowder, the electricity, and the army of black-helmeted stage hands dressed like ninjas, etc. 50,000 euros? It’s hard to imagine it’s less than that. But could it be as large as 100,000 euros? Spouse guessed 250,000 euros, but to me that seems extreme. I guess I will have to do some internet sleuthing.
Also I must sleuth because once we got back to our countryside B&B (filled with Germans who’d driven up for the show), I went to bed wondering what the carbon footprint of your average Rammstein show is. I bet it’s enough to make one of these young climate protesters scream.