Written by Nick Hopton
Photographed by Liv Foltiny
‘Gott weiss ich will kein Engel sein’
The smell of stale beer and sweat cakes the air. It’s the end of summer in the middle of Philadelphia, and the literal hottest band in the world (sorry, KISS) is moments away from taking the stage at The Linc.
I am stuffed into the lower level, surrounded by massive, diehard fans, some of whom have traveled worldwide to see them again. The guy next to me just saw them in Canada, not more than a week ago. The fan base is unmatched by any I have seen. It’s hot out, and most are in full leather jackets and pants, eyeliner, and fishnets; some are wearing next to nothing. It’s sex, it’s all on the table here, and it’s the norm.
A voice comes over the speakers. “For your enjoyment…the band respectfully asks that you do not record the show.” This is the type of gig that you need to witness with your own eyes. The kind you fully immerse yourself in with no distractions.
As the lights go down, you see the stage constructed to look like a post-apocalyptic steel mill, lighting the night sky up with enough firepower to make the 4th of July jealous. The guitars erupt, the drums bash, and for the next 2 hours, we are fucking in it. And it does not let up.
Song after song, we are treated to a new form of visual theatre that accompanies the already masterful musical arrangements they have concocted over a nearly 30-year career. We have flaming carriages, complete with a digital hellspawn that spewed “flys” all over the crowd (it was confetti, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t sell it). A boiling pot that the keyboardist Flake performed in while lead singer Till Lindemann set it ablaze with not one but three different-sized flamethrowers. And the cannon. Ohh, the cannon that Till rides around simulating, well, use your imagination on that one. Add a few flame-spewing guitars to the mix, and you’re talking about only a fraction of the gear used in this insane stage build.
The song choices picked for this tour span their entire catalog, making for memorable moments of wonder in a Philadelphia crowd that has not experienced this spectacle live since 2012. Tracks like “ZickZack, “Sehnsucht,” and “Mein Herz brennt” get the show and crowd moving early, with absolute ragers such as “Deutschland,” “Radio,” and of course, “Du Hast” coming in later when everyone is nice and warmed up (pun intended). They end the set with “Sonne,” and the eye of the camera is then transfixed on the pit and its inhabitants while the band prepares for what’s next. Needless to say, clothes were taken off, and the entire crowd cheered. After a few minutes of fun without them, Rammstein makes their way around the sea of fans on the floor to a small side stage no more than 100 feet from where I am standing. Joined by the opening act, a dual piano act by Duo Abelard, they perform the softest song of the night,” Engel.” It’s quite a beautiful piece that deviates from the raging metal we’ve been accustomed to all evening. Every band member had a microphone, and the lyrics were displayed on the stage for all to sing along. Instead of walking back the way they came to get back to the main stage, they elect to place a few inflatable rafts on top of the crowd and “row” their way back over them, high-fiving fans and tossing guitar picks with smiles on their faces. It’s a blast had by all. They wrap up the encore with “Auslander’,” “Du riechst so gut” and “Pussy,” but they’re not done yet.
Why not a second encore? After all, this is the first time since 2012 that they have played Philadelphia, so let’s get everything we can in and send everyone home feeling fulfilled. The crowd chants “RAMMSTEIN” over and over…and they happily obliged to come out for a few more. ‘Rammstein’ and ‘Ich will’ get the rest of the pyro out of the systems, closing with a beautiful “Adieu” to send the stadium home with a smile on their faces.
Till Lindemann ends the night with one of the only things said in the English language all night. “Thank you. We love you all.” Past that, the entire night was German. I dare you to find me another band or an act that can pack a stadium in America while not saying a word of English until the very end of the night. It’s a testament to not only the ferocity, skill, and reach of this band but also the staying power. Fans of all ages were on their feet from the opening note to the closing, singing along to a language they most likely don’t understand and loving every moment. It’s very rare to find a band of this caliber still performing at the highest level 30 years after they form, and it’s even rarer for said bands to take it to another level continually. That’s what Rammstein does. They set the bar for the most extreme stage creations and outdo themselves with every tour.
Let’s hope the next tour isn’t another decade away because if you have not yet seen them, you need to.
It’s raw. It’s sexual. It’s Rammstein.