In the hours leading up to the kickoff of Rammstein’s North American stadium tour in Montreal, Canada on Sunday August 21, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the city and surrounding areas.
The threat of heavy rain, potentially dangerous gusts of wind, excessive hail, intense lightning and thunderclaps were forecast throughout the day. And while there were flashes and bursts of all of these elements throughout the afternoon, the weather was wrong. It was not the earth’s atmosphere that was about to produce this powerful barometric disturbance. They were the German icons of industrial metal.
It’s not hard to imagine that their impending 2 million watt attack on Montreal’s Jean Drapeau Park and his home on Île Sainte-Hélène was about to cause such a seismic ripple across the city that could be detected by radar. After all, Rammstein’s stadium show (tickets available here), with its 200-foot-wide, 120-foot-tall, 300-ton fire-breathing stage, leveled halls and beat the band’s fanatical fans across the Europe since 2019.
Interrupted by the pandemic, the band and their Ramm-stage (seriously, this thing needs a name) hit the road again this spring for the second leg of their European tour. Finally – two years plus a day since their originally scheduled August 2020 arrival in Montreal – the deluge of sound, stage antics and stadium spectacle on a scale never seen before has taken the continent by storm with the first of 12 North American concerts planned by October.
And frankly, no place deserved the honor of hosting this new ground than Montreal, Quebec, a historically metal-centric market with a reputation for helping break the careers of American and European metal bands over the decades. . Quebec immediately embraced Rammstein upon their emergence in the mid-90s. The German act returned the favor, visiting as often as their overseas touring schedule permitted.
Bringing Montreal the first-ever North American stadium touring show in all its glory was both an elegant decision and a shrewd business decision. The competition for the entertainment dollar draws music fans in as many directions as our attention spans. That doubles for a summer festival season scheduled to feed our live music appetite starved by more than two years of social distancing and disappointments.
In Montreal alone, three consecutive weekends have hosted three distinct music mega-festivals — including the internationally acclaimed Osheaga — in the same outdoor venue where Rammstein performed on Sunday. And that can’t be overstated: as incredible as the festival lineups are this summer, Rammstein unquestionably stole the show, earning every penny audiences put in to be part of the immersive band experience.
The rains fell, the skies cleared, and by 6:30 p.m., Jean Drapeau Park was teeming with tens of thousands of people ready to spring into action. Dozens of beer tents surrounded the site, and at least six huge merch tents were set up to serve the eager souvenir hunters lined up in numbers never seen even during the most alarming heights of the toilet paper pandemic panic.
Just after 7:00 p.m., frequent and regular tour collaborators Duo Játékok, performing on a small raised stage in the center of the crowd, began to create a mood. The talented Parisian pianists have a very clear mission to create the calm before the blitzkrieg.
Their hour-long set of classical music built momentum while taming an audience who took full advantage of the strategically positioned bars surrounding the pitch on a wet evening after the rain. Duo Játékok was not only an entirely entertaining and unique opener, perfect for offsetting the impending decibel onslaught, but also a well-calculated risk management asset.
The towering stage itself is an imposing element, a marvel of design that invites imaginative wonderment by its mere presence. What is this thing capable of when turned on? In a sense, he opens up on himself. Against the backdrop of Montreal’s cityscape across the St. Lawrence River, it evokes the imagery of German industrialism and the dystopian aesthetic of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
There’s nothing nuanced about that, either. This will also prove true for Rammstein.
At this point I’m going to dive into first person for a moment: I’ve never seen this band live and only know them as a phenomenon, enjoying them from afar, albeit from their early days. Came here to see what this tour was all about and what happens during a show on a stage that takes nearly 300 tour crew members four days to assemble. I came to observe and experience what millions and millions of people swear by.
Anything a review of this show may reveal is, for all intents and purposes, a spoiler. It begins with Handel’s suite “Music for the Royal Fireworks” as leader Till Lindeman emerges. The digitized Rammstein logo rises up on the screen at center stage. The massive satellite woofers that crown the self-congratulatory rock ‘n’ roll stand fire up. Drummer Christoph Schneider takes his place.
Then, a warning shot. The first explosion of the night scares 42,000 amazed spectators. And Rammstein are in front of you.
Initially, the decibel level is impressive. Soon it will seem to balance itself out. But really, it’s like seeing an airplane in the sky. You know it’s flying at tremendous speed, but it seems to be floating at an almost casual pace. It’s all about perspective. And before that aural perspective gets lost in the fury of the riffs, drums, synths, pyro, props and staging that Rammstein will unpack, making it sound effortless, it’s impossible to ignore that this sudden immersion in pure volume is beyond strong. It’s roaring.
As the proceedings took off, the crowd’s anticipation turned to stunned collective excitement as the metal deities on stage came to life. Each member of Rammstein plays their individual role in parallel time, visually and symphonically, as part of a greater whole. Their gravity is concrete. The foundry they built for this tour can only fill its output with flames, smoke and tension with these seasoned steelworkers forging their wares.
In the course of more than two hours, there are times when the only fundamental reminder that this is indeed a concert and not just a barrage of delicious sensory overload comes from the piercing guitars of Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers. . The one thing that transcends the top entertainment package that Rammstein has designed and deployed is the pride they clearly take in its execution. This project is a work in every sense and the band is more than dedicated to marking every moment with excellence.
As mentioned, any attempt to dissect the unfolding of the whole affair veers into spoiler territory. Calling this cutscene Rammstein’s tour might seem like an easy way out. Maybe. But when it’s all said and done, there’s literally a credit roll on the center screen. So I let the viewer judge.
And impossible to look away from what is happening during this concert. And even if you tried, the experience is so thoroughly immersive that just being a member of the audience takes on a participatory consciousness all its own. Throughout the show, there is an overwhelming sense of communal joy. When it’s all over, that joy lingers.
As the Rammstein Stadium North American Tour continues across the United States and into Mexico City, live music fans who like to see the limits of their expectations stretched would do well to make sure they don’t miss what will most likely be a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience and certainly an everlasting memory.
Tickets for the remaining dates of Rammstein’s North American tour are available through Ticketmaster, with more information on the band’s official website. See our photos from the Montreal show below, followed by the setlist.
Photo Gallery – Rammstein North American Launch Show in Montreal (click to enlarge and scroll):
All photos by Eric Brisson (@sakuhabs).
My heart is burning
Engel (with Duo Abélard – Piano Version)
Some riechst so gut
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