The German language, usually ranked alongside algebra and hangovers as one of the main tormentors of secondary school existence, became briefly fashionable amongst Icelandic teenagers in the late 1990s. Language teachers looked on, puzzled as adolescents delivered their homework filled out and on time, and wondered what they were doing right. But the real reason was six muscular thirtysomething German men, who looked imposingly from the cover of their debut album ‘Herzeleid’. Success continued with ‘Sehnsucht’, and “Du hast” became one of the songs of the summer of 1997 almost, but not quite, what Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” was to the summer of 2016.
The height of Rammstein mania in Iceland was reached in 2000, when they graced our shores with a memorable concert in Laugardalshöllin. The following year saw the release of ‘Mutter’, which even the disco girls like, but since then, their popularity here has abated somewhat. That is, until this May, when they finally returned to play a sold-out show at Kórinn in Kópavogur, a place well outside the outskirts of the outskirts of town. This is the homefield of the Kópavogur handball club, and also where that other Justin, Bieber, played Iceland’s biggest-ever indoor shows last summer. Outside are hills and the horses. The smell of manure inundates your senses as you enter a concert hall in the middle of nowhere. This seems an appropriate setting for a Rammstein show.
The German Kiss
And what a show it is. The boys grew up listening to Kiss, and this in a sense is a heavier, German Kiss for the 90s (yes, I am aware that that decade has passed). From the first minute, we get fireworks galore, flamethrower masks and a burning longbow. Something for all senses but sadly, there are no giant penises this time. Now in their 50s, maybe this is the new, mature Rammstein? Not quite, for they soon set their keyboard player on fire. Which anyone who has ever been in a band can surely relate to.
If you feel that all you need is a red guitar, three chords and the truth, this ain’t that. But the music rocks, along with the pyrotechnics. There aren’t many non-English, non-Icelandic speaking bands who can get a home crowd to sing along, apart perhaps from Danish wonder Kim Larsen. But they do on “Du hast.” However, the Viking clap during the encores might have been better left out, belonging squarely to last summer.
Over All Too Quickly
Rammstein might not have many radio hits, but there is a little dismay at how much is left out. No “ Mutter,” no “Mein Teil,” no title song. Thankfully, however, “ Pussy” does not make an appearance, with its rather juvenile and slightly rapey “You have a pussy/I have a dick/So what’s the problem/Let’s do it quick.” Maybe it sounds better in German…
The show barely clocks in at one and a half hours. One feels that after having come all the way to Kópavogur, the spectator should be entitled to a little more, even accounting for a warm-up set by the band of the Health Minister (seriously). But we do get Depeche Mode’s “ Stripped”, “ Hallelujah” (no, not that one) and it all ends with “Engel.” If brevity is the one complaint after a show, something is being done right. And it’ s strange to think that all the people conceived just after the last Rammstein show here are now turning seventeen. Let’s hope we don’ t have to wait another seventeen years for the next Rammstein visit.