DON’T READ THIS REVIEW OR LOOK AT THE PICTURES IF YOU’VE GOT A TICKET FOR THE TOUR AND HAVEN’T SEEN THEM YET! SPOILERS AHOY
First of all “damn you, SECC, for not having an insurance policy that allows the use of flamethrowers indoors” as I gather that was why I ended up having to drive to Newcastle to see these bands. It was either that or Manchester and, let’s face it, Newcastle is always going to win given that choice.
The long trip was made more awkward by a physio’s appointment in the late afternoon which got me out of work a little early, but kept me back later than I would probably have been had I worked to the end of the day. Ah well. With a couple of hours to get down there, we jumped into Gillian’s car (more fuel efficient, but far less fun) and barrelled down the M74 and A69, pulling up in Newcastle around 6:30. Not bad going at all.
We were joined by Wendi and Dean O’Dinosaur (and his handler). As a pleasant surprise we bumped into Lainy and Adam inside the venue as we partook of overpriced beer, pizza and doughnuts. A word of warning for the Newcastle Arena – if you’re on a limited budget, skip the pizza. It’s crap. On the other hand, the doughnuts are great.
With the performance due to start at 7:30, we headed into the arena proper slightly early and got a good place off to stage left. I must point out that the nice lady who took our tickets is the proud mother of a lad who managed to hit Jedward with a (empty, plastic!) bottle at Leeds Festival recently. I shook her hand on all your behalves. Oh, talking of tickets – if anyone has their stub from the evening and wouldn’t mind passing it on I’d appreciate it. I have my tickets from every gig I’ve ever been to, but didn’t get to retrieve on as we poured out post-show :(
Deathstars took the stage at 7:30 and played an enjoyable, if short, set of around 35 minutes. I’d have been tempted to see them the night before at The Cathouse in Glasgow, but I was utterly buried in work. A shame as they were pretty good and do know how to put on a show. Certainly, they didn’t look out of place on the large stage making more than full use of the smoke machines – something I doubt they’d have been able to do in the Cathouse.
They’re very much a “goth metal” act – both in appearance and musical style. Imagine a slightly more thrashy version of Sisters of Mercy.
This is a band who knows how to pose, gesture and perform. Personally I think they were an inspired choice to open for Rammstein. Dark, but otherwise musically different from the headliners. Good with the audience, too. They had a fair portion clapping their hands and cheering for the German behemoths on several occasions.
After 35 minutes or so, they packed up and headed off, leaving us to wait for Rammstein to amaze, astound and entertain.
Which they did. Oh, my, how they did.
THIS IS THE POINT TO STOP READING IF YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THEM ON THIS TOUR!!!
Rammstein are best known for their live show. Don’t get me wrong, their music is good enough as it is and I’m sure they’d do well if they didn’t have the stage show that that do, but I seriously doubt they’d be selling out arenas. I’ve seen them once before – a superb 90 minute headlining slot at Sonisphere in 2010 where, in my opinion, they blew Iron Maiden away. Impressive given that I knew exactly one song.
Tonight’s show was a shade over 2 hours. Even with the fairly high ticket price, it was worth every single penny.
Ever the mould-breakers, Rammstein kicked things off by appearing not on-stage, but behind the audience in the loftier seating areas off stage right. Marching slowly down, bearing flags and flaming torches, they made their way down to floor level and up onto a platform. A walkway descended from the ceiling allowing them to walk over the heads of the crowd to the stage itself.
Every song Rammstein played was accompanied by some kind of on-stage firework, explosive, lighting trick, prop, performance… Rammstein aren’t just musicians, they’re performers. Watching them live is like a stage show with an incredible sound track, rather than a music show with some props.
Lead singer Till Lindemann does a good job of almost ignoring the crowd for the entire set, only really speaking to them at the very end to say “thank you”. From his bizarre dancing and somewhat overzealous use of fire to keyboardist Christian Lorenz‘ off-kilter performance, the whole band are very much part of the show.
While it’s not unusual to see the occasional band member crowd surfing, Rammstein are the only one I’m aware of who routinely have a keyboardist in an inflatable raft “sailing” over the audience. They’re certainly the only one with e lead singer who wears huge, flaming angel wings during an encore performance.
Flaming bows and arrows; huge flash pots (Metallica – you had one one stage and your singer burned himself on it – these guys have dozens of them!); the best light show in the business which actually moves around; flame throwers; burning hearts; fireworks on their clothes; showers of sparkles; a huge foam cannon shaped like a penis… All part of the show. Utterly incredible.
A highlight was the band coming on-stage after a quick break to that walkway descending again. This time, they crawled back across to the small platform from where they’d begin the gig. This time it was prepared with a full set of instruments and they played a good handful of songs from there – far closer to the audience than you’d normally get at a stadium concert.
As well as the excellent performances, I met a couple of really nice people at the gig. One admired my camera (hi, Ant!) so I’ve pointed him at the photos. Another had come down from Glasgow, just like us, and started talking to me because he liked my shirt (“If you can’t mosh to it, it’s not worth listening to“).
Two hours just flew by. I would gladly fork out the money to see them again, and although the drive home exhausted me, it was absolutely worth it. If you’ve never seen Rammstein live before, then it’s something you simply have to do. People pay similar amounts for theatre tickets and probably don’t get half as spectacular a show as we got for our £50.
Roll on the next album and next tour.