Rammstein / Apocalyptica - MEN Arena - 6.2.05

Apocalyptica deliver crunching power chords and solos, making more noise than the combined line-up of the Download Festival. The difference? This colossal force comes from a cello quartet and sole drummer. Every inch the archetypal rock stars. If Nigel Kennedy was the demon child of Vivienne Westwood, then this band sit somewhere between a death metal band and Velvet Revolver. As they walk on stage they sit on 4 giant medieval stools, but this isn't a passive band, far from it. At every given opportunity the members are punching their fists in the air or walking to the front of the stage to unleash their cello solos.

Maybe it's the fact that they can cover Metallica's "Seek And Destroy" and win over 17,000 people in the Arena. Maybe it's the fact that even without the vocal presence of Ville Vallo of HIM or Laurie from The Rasmus, "Bittersweet" still sounds like a beautiful modern day hymn. On their own material the reaction is still as appreciative and long after the novelty has worn off Apocalyptica stand tall as a pivotal force in rock music. Everything about the show signals that this band could become as huge in the UK as they are in the rest of Europe.

For 5 minutes the sound of death whirls around the arena. It's possibly the most unsettling intro for a band ever, but so undeniably Rammstein. As the dead souls leave the building the Rammstein security team take to the stage. Dressed in the obligatory short sleeved grey shirt / black tie uniform they brandish baseball bats and peer menacingly into the audience. 2 seconds later the first of many explosions happen and Rammstein appear in all their glory for "Reise Reise". A vision of futuristic hell and bondage wear.

Much of the bands appeal lies in the fact that they refuse to play the game. The very fact that a band who sing in their native German tongue does more for European relations than Tony Blair's much touted referendum on the EU ever could. Whether they know the exact meaning behind the lyrics is debatable, the fact that nearly 20,000 people are here singing note perfect German says a lot.

Then of course there's the band addiction to pyrotechnics. Rammstein have an addiction to pyros, like Pete Doherty has for smack and self-destruction. Fire breathing face masks, flame throwers and crossbows are all part of the bands make up and when you think that by boiling their keyboard player Flake in a pot during "Mein Teil" they couldn't take things further...they then shoot a flame across to the back of the arena.

During "Amerika", the only Rammstein song to feature a splattering of English, the crowd is covered in Red, White and Blue ticker tape. "We all live in Amerika. Amerika is Wunderbar" the crowd chant tongue firmly in cheek.

Many have tried, but it's Rammstein that have just created the most explosive incendiary live show the world have ever seen. If you get the chance to see them sell anything, sell your mother for it - Rammstein transgress rock n roll with something much bigger.

Alex McCann

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