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Concert Reviews:
Rammstein's on fire -- no, REALY on fire -- at the Palace

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, May 7, 2012

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AUBURN HILLS -- It's common to hear that a band was "on fire" after a good show. But let's just say that Rammstein redefines the term.

The German heavy metal group lit up the Palace of Auburn Hills -- literally and figuratively -- on Sunday night, May 6, with a special effects display so unparalleled its two hours left any other pyrotechnic purveyors, from Kiss to Kid Rock, choking on sulfur in its explosive, over-the-top wake.

The sextet's reputation precedes it, of course; Rammstein has been blowing things up on stage since the group emerged during the mid-90s. But on Sunday, with a massive (though less than half-full) arena as a playground, the troupe pulled out every trick in the book as well as some we didn't even know existed. That the music -- sturdy, grooving, industrial-strength and sung entirely in Rammstein's native tongue -- was largely overshadowed by the spectacle was an unavoidable occupational hazard for a show that was liable to burst into flame, rather than song, at any turn.

Rammstein didn't waste any time starting the theatrics, either. Following an opening set by a DJ who played techno mixes of the group's music, the six band members -- led by torch-bearing bassist Oliver Riedel -- paraded through a stairway in the lower bowl to a B-stage on the Palace floor, which then elevated to bring the musicians level with a catwalk that allowed them to walk to the main stage, which was flanked by two large bowls of fire. Large columns of flames shot around the group during its opening number, "Sonne" ("Sun") while fire jets surrounded muscular frontman Till Lindemann (a former Olympic-caliber swimmer) during the appropriately titled "Wollt Ihr Das Bett in Flammen Sehen?" ("Do You Want to See the Bed in Flames?").

From there it was essentially a pick-your-favorite-stunt night, with nearly every one of the 20 songs accompanied by some sort of jaw-dropping visual. Among the best: Lindemann's smoking suit and the two guitarists' flaming microphone stands during "Asche zu Asche" ("Ashes to Ashes"); Lindemann using flamethrowers to "cook" keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz in a giant kettle on wheels for "Mein Teil" ("My Part"); the singer's flaming bow-and-arrow set at the start of "Du Riechst So Gut" ("You Smell So Good"); Lorenz riding an inflatable raft through the crowd during "Haifisch" ("Shark"); the giant wings that shot fire from their tips while Lindemann sang "Engel" ("Angel"); and a dizzying smorgasbord of tricks during the hit "Du Hast" ("You Have").

Rammstein also performed three songs on the B-stage, with the straight-up versions of "Mann Gegen Mann" ("Man Against Mann") and the slower, melodic "Ohne Dich" ("Without You") providing a welcome reminder of the music's merits beyond the bombast. Those moments were rare but certainly offered more than just breathers for the next round of visual mayhem.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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