The Forum – Inglewood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
I suppose you could say I am one of the lucky ones. I managed to experience Rammstein live three times in the late 90’s/early 00’s. A teenager at the time, Rammstein was my KISS; the ones who blew shit up in arenas much to my delight. If Rammstein was playing anywhere near my home, no doubt I would be there. Sadly about a decade ago Rammstein stopped playing near my home. Hell, Rammstein stopped playing my continent. It broke my heart to miss the bands one-off show at Madison Square Garden late last year, so when a brief North American arena tour was announced for May 2011 I made sure to get my ass into the show.
With traffic worse than usual on the 405 and multiple security check points to get into the once Great Western Forum, I found myself in line for an overpriced cocktail when Combichrist took the stage. To be honest, Combichrist was nothing to write home about, yet the perfect opener for Rammstein. I found their take on 90’s industrial rock to be rather generic and unoriginal, yet it worked considering who the headliners were. With the arena ½ full, I found myself sitting down in the middle of the mosh pit for a game of Patty Cake with a mid-sized Latino youth for entertainment during the set. While I doubt I will remember this band in six months, I can tell you that they closed their 30 minute set by welcoming Richard Z. Krupse and Paul Landers of Rammstein onto the stage for a song called “What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?”
With my only Rammstein headline show at the now defunct 1800 capacity Maritime Hall in San Francisco back in 1999, While I knew MSG sold well, I was shocked that the band booked arenas from coast to coast. Would that many folks pay that much in this economy to see the band? As it turns out they sure as hell would.
The band kicked the night off with “Rammlied.” It was hard to see what was going on with so many fans in front of me holding their cameras high eager to capture the moment they were first penetrated by the Rammstein experience. Then again it didn’t really matter what the band played for most in the crowd. They were excited to see fire shoot from every corner of the stage, a large gas pump go out of control setting someone on fire and of course lead singer Till Lindemann attempting to burn keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz from high above the stage. The fact is most inside the Forum knew nothing more of Rammstein than “Du Hast” and that didn’t matter because when it comes down to it everyone loves to watch shit blow up. Hell I will admit that I was once hardcore enough to once ask and receive the Original Single Kollektion box set from Santa yet didn’t know most of the material the band performed.
Even if fire isn’t your thing Rammstein had you covered. Flake set sail into the mosh pit in a large inflatable rubber raft during “Haifisch” and bassist Oliver “Ollie” Riedel finger picked a Spanish guitar during “Frühling in París.” While “Bück Dich” didn’t make it into the set, the band managed to bukkake the crowd as Lindemann shot his cock cannon off at the crowd during the set closing “Pussy.”
Much like current Forum resident Prince, Rammstein performed multiple encores. The first encore featured fired up versions of “Sonne,” “Haifisch” and “Ich Will.” The second encore consisted of “Engel” which featured Lindemann with a huge pair of wings that shot fire before burning to a crisp. As the band thanked California, the house lights came up and many struggled with the fact that the show was over. While many gushed over the fact that they finally were able to see Rammstein I struggled with the fact that I was a bit let down. Don’t get me wrong, it was an incredible experience that I would have not missed for the world. Perhaps it was the fact I didn’t fear for my life like I did at Maritime Hall? Perhaps it’s the fact that they performed for nearly two hours instead of packing all the action into 45 minutes? For me it felt as if the band has cut back a lot of the insane stunts that made me fall in love as a teenager. Despite these feelings I am truly grateful I was able to experience these guys live one more time. Let’s hope it doesn’t take them another ten years to return to North America.