May 22, 2012
American Airlines Center
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Barry Bond
Wow! And literally, I mean WOW! Hands down, the Rammstein spectacle at the American Airlines Center in Dallas was the best concert I have seen since Roger Waters recreated The Wall at the very same facility in November, 2010. Yes metal heads, if you were thinking about going but didn't, you might want to start kicking yourself now. You missed one incredible performance. I still can't get over how alive watching this show made me feel.
By the way, German was the language of choice this evening. No English was spoken other than the exclamations from the crowd that usually included the word "awesome." The music emanating on stage, from this German industrial rock band, did all the real talking. It spoke volumes to this rabid gathering of thousands, especially the ones on the floor, who had paid good money to witness their divine metal intervention.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, it has been quite some time since I was generally excited to see a band in concert. And honestly, this type of music isn't my cup of tea. But that's the thing. Despite the fact that maybe a handful of people actually understood the words vocalist Till Lindemann was singing, or shouting, it was the pulsating sound of the music that grabbed a hold of you and wouldn't let go. And speaking of Lindeman, without a doubt, he's the most enigmatic front man you will ever see on a concert stage. To say he has a fiery personality would be an understatement.
A licensed pyrotechnician, Lindemann's craft was on full display throughout the evening. It began in a subtle way. Rammstein entered the arena with a torch bearer leading the way. The crowd exploded in applause as the band members made a grand entrance from the lower level concourse down a set of stairs to the back of the arena floor. A catwalk was lowered so that each member could walk, or strut, across the overhang onto the stage. Finally, the group grabbed their instruments and chaos erupted in all its sonic glory.
This concert was punctuated with a brilliantly choreographed pyrotechnic show that repeatedly had flames shooting in dazzling patterns sequenced to the music. Couple that visual display with the thunderous musical assault led by guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul H. Landers, backed by the pounding rhythm section of Oliver "Ollie" Riedel on bass and Christoph "Doom" Schneider on drums, and well, let's just say it was impossible to sit down. And trust me, no one did.
Rammstein takes its name indirectly from the German town of Ramstein-Miesenbach, the site of a disaster where sixty-seven spectators and three pilots died during a mid-80s air show gone awry. An additional 346 spectators sustained serious injuries when two aircraft collided in midair, exploded, and reigned down fire and debris on those below. The band's signature composition, "Rammstein ", was written about the event. Whether the group played the song is anyone's guess, though I did hear reference to 'rammstein' being sung by the crowd during the second song. So who knows?
Richard Kruspe once told me in an interview that Rammstein's music has a way of speaking to the audience without the benefit of words. The band's material, he told me, didn't give any of them a place to lead. You had to trust your instincts and follow them musically wherever it took you. At the time, his comment didn't make much sense. Watching this show unfold before me, however, let's just say the musician's words loud and true. There was something about experiencing the visual art display of fire and smoke, coupled with the music that sucked you right in to Rammstein's dark, yet energetic world. It's kind of hard to explain the kinds of emotions each song was able to elicit from the crowd. As you watched the band perform on stage, at no time did you ever feel as though the songs were lost in translation. If you have ever attended a Rammstein concert, you know what I'm talking about. You didn't have to understand one single word Lindemann uttered. All you had to do was feel it, and boy, could you ever. American Airlines rocked like it never has before.
By the way, I want to give a special shout out to keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz. Dressed in a shimmering 'silver surfer' suit, you couldn't help but laugh at his outfit and restrained on stage antics. Though he remained a somewhat stoic figure most of the night, when he it was time to turn the spotlight on him, the musician was ready. It was especially entertaining when he would jump on a treadmill placed directly in front of his rig, and play the keyboards while walking in place. Knowing that anything goes in a Rammstein concert, I half expected someone to speed up the machine to see if 'Flake' would wipe out. For some strange reason, these hilarious scenes with Lorenz seemed to make sense in this high octane show.
Rammstein is all about energy, combustible or otherwise. A tremendous surge of excitement erupted from the general admission crowd on the floor when Kruspe and Landers launched into the hit, "Du Hast." An adrenaline surge swept through the audience as several volunteer body surfers were hoisted overhead and passed to the front over barricades. Security was kind enough to let them back into the show. The reaction to this one particular tune was a typical audience reaction to all the songs presented by Rammstein.
Whether the band's Made in Germany Tour 1995-2011, is a true reflection of the band's musical culture, is anyone's guess. However, when you've been around for a quarter of a century creating a unique brand of music, it doesn't really matter where the inspiration comes from. Done right, the songs communicate in a way that renders words, no matter what language they are spoken in, a moot point.
I kept marveling at the way the Rammstein's music gripped over and over again as the group powered through a 20-song set list. The two hour shows was highlighted by two encores and a brief concert on a mini stage at the back of the arena. This evening, and I suspect every night of this American tour, everyone in the crowd spoke German. Whether or not any one understood a single word they were attempting to say was irrelevant. You just felt compelled to try. .
In the world of pulsating metal, Rammstein's has no peers. Not even the mighty Slayer, in its glorious days in the mid to late '80s, could match this German outfit's intensity. The level of excellence on display was such, you felt honored to be in the same building with the band. That kind of respect is the difference between a good show, and a memorable one. Rammstein stood tall for all to see in their flame throwing glory. It was a sight to behold, and a sound to gladly bang your head to. Memories indeed!
Wllt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen?
Asche zu Asche
Du riechst so gut
Back stage of arena:
Mann gegen Mann
Mein Nerz brennt