Friday, April 13, 2007

Give Me Benzin!

Rammstein – Volkerball

Rammstein's Live Aus Berlin is quite easily the best music DVD I've ever watched. There's nothing particularly clever or unique about it; all they've done is taken a camera and pointed it at one of the best live acts in existence. It was therefore with great anticipation that I first put on their new DVD Volkerball, and I was not disappointed.

Live Aus Berlin was released when Rammstein had only two albums to their name; Herzeleid and Sensucht. It's now three albums later so the setlist and stageshows are completely different. The direction of the video is a little different this time around too. Live Aus Berlin focused (predictably but understandably) on their incredible stage show and the pyrotechnics that made it famous, whereas Volkerball is more about the performance and especially the audience. After all, Limp Bizkit liked to use pyrotechnics in their show and it didn't become nearly as legendary as Rammstein's. Obviously this is attributable to Limp Bizkit being shit and Rammstein being awesome. The stage show might help but the real reason these guys are so great in concert mostly comes down to the dancy, anthemic nature of the songs and the powerful, enthusiastic delivery of the band. It's well over six years ago now but one of my fondest concert memories is being literally forced to mosh to these guys by both the power of the music and the corresponding audience response back before I even had much idea of who they were.

Of course the cool setpieces are still present and accounted for on this disc. Expect loads of shit to get blown up and everything that can possibly be set on fire to be immolated. There are also plenty of other cool things they do that don't involve violent conflagrations; the moshpit row boat makes another appearance and there's an elaborate stage setup made to look them like sailors for the opening song 'Reise Reise'. However the highlight is easily 'Mein Tiel', in which Till (vocals) and Flake (keyboards) re-enact the grisly incident that inspired the song;
the Armin Meiwes cannibalism case. Oh yeah and I mustn't forget, Flake gets all new gimp dances too!

All these shenanigans can sometimes distract one from the fact that even besides the spectacle these guys are musically an incredible live act as well. In this performance they infuse the sad songs like 'Ohne Dich' and 'Stripped' with even more pathos than the album versions, and the rock out anthems like 'Amerika' and the aforementioned 'Mein Teil' just go off the fucking meter with energy. My favourite track has to be 'Los', the quirky country/metal track from Reise Reise, transformed here into a heavy but groovy bluesed up version of it's former self that sounds like something the Doors would have written if they had been a metal band and Jim Morrison had been a barrel chested Teutonic ogre.

There's hours of concert footage here, the majority of it from a single performance at Nimes, France, but also including some cool footage from England and Japan, and an awesome (and almost pornographic) version of 'Moskau' performed in, of all places, Moscow. The special edition also comes with interviews and a 'Making of Reise Reise' feature, which are all worth watching (it's a wee bit sad seeing the change in Till's personality from the interviews on Live Aus Berlin, the pressures of fame and all that). Don't bother with the audio only version, it's just not the same and they've cut out all the ballads because of space considerations.

I know I often overuse superlatives on this site but seriously, I'm sitting here right now watching them play 'Benzin' as I type this and I honestly can't believe how much it rocks! If you like Rammstein you really need to get this disc. And for fucks sake! Would they please tour Australia again soon! Six years is far far too long!

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