That morning I had an appointment with a psychiatrist in Whitehaven (because I know all of them in Carlisle) and was told I was definitely depressed. Well, yeah. It was good though because it put my mind at rest about a few things and seem to be on the right medication. In the interview she asked me if I self harmed and I said no, then I could see her looking at the cat scratches on my arm and I had to suppress a giggle. I wonder what she'll say in the letter...
Soon we were on our way, with Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, Reise, Reise and Sehnsucht on the stereo to get us in the mood. This week I have been mostly reading Colour Now by Kevin McCloud. As a result I was viewing all the scenery, especially on Shap, as one huge colour scheme. Even the horrid yellow and purple-grey of the snow laden sky got a look in.
Mum had printed off directions and a map but we still managed to get lost. This was partly because the car park was badly signposted, but mostly because dad didn't listen to mum's instructions of "turn right". Perhaps it was because he was hoping they would play Links 2, 3, 4? He wasn't disappointed in that respect anyway. I was just sad that I never got to shout "ÜBER DIE KREUZUNG!" (over the crossroads) which is one of the few useful phrases I remember from GCSE German.
Our hotel for the night was the Stay Inn, on the cusp of Manchester city centre and the less salubrious Salford. "Make sure you take all the valuables out of your car. They won't be able to get away with your car but they would break into it" said the German receptionist cheerily. When we told him we were going to see Rammstein he was at first surprised (none of us like metallers most of the time, apart from dad with his long hair) and then jealous. It seemed he'd had to put up with a lot of people saying that was the reason for their stay.
Mum slipped into her custom made Rammstein tshirt, made up of patches of an official one which was too small, dad lay on the bed as he wasn't getting changed (a white shirt and a cardigan. A CARDIGAN I tell you). Of course I embraced the night and dressed head to toe in black - black dress with lace, black leggins, black boots. I didn't bother doing my hair properly as it was raining a bit but did put a bit of rocker's shadowy make up on. I would have been more OTT but I didn't want to look to Corpse Bride whilst eating in Pizza Express.
The MEN Arena is the worst gig venue I've ever been too. It has a corridor all the way round it with little shops and stalls in, but no seats. I could understand if they had no bins like a railway station, but what's wrong with seats? We'd been avoiding the support act Combichrist by going to Wetherspoon's so fortunately we weren't stood in the Corridor of Boredom for long. But then began the Walk of Terror. The MEN is set out like an amphitheatre with the stage at one end, a flat section for standing and then rows upon rows of seats. We were standing, and in their wisdom the designers decided to make us walk down lots of stairs. I am scared of heights. It was dark. The stairs must have been at a 30 degree angle with a descent of about 200 feet. I have never been so pleased to enter a crowd before.
Our timing was perfect. We heard one and a half Combichrist songs, so in essence have heard them all. The two drummers were impressive and when the singer wasn't screaming/growling they weren't too bad. More standing around whilst the roadies prepared the stage. Evil man farts and Major Tom wandering selling beer. Then all becomes dark for Rammstein are about to take to the stage...
The two guitarists hack their way through "walls" with axes. Then the singer, Till Lindeman, cuts his way through a metal door using a "welding flame". They open with Rammlied, the first track from LIFAD, a perfect opener as it begins with Till singing unaccompanied and then all the band joining in at once with a huge blast of noise. Plus we get to shout "RAMMSTEIN!" during the song a lot, and it's about them being fabulous and just what you need if you're feeling down.
Rammstein are famous for their pyrotechnics and stage design. Plenty of pyros, an exploding petrol pump (during Benzin), exploding babies with Borg-like laser eyes which dropped down from the ceiling, huge angel wings with fiery tips (see my mum's blog for a video), and a flaming gimp. The poor keyboard player is killed in a different way on every tour. During the Reise, Reise tour he was flambéed in a giant saucepan during the song Mein Teil, which is about the German who advertised on the internet for someone to eat. This time Till picks up the keyboard player, which is incredibly easy as the guy is like a stick and Till has arms like legs (swoon). He puts him in a hole onstage, grabs a bucket, and is then lifted into the air on a hydrolic platform. The contents of the bucket start fizzing and Till pours hot molten lead on top of the keyboard player. After a couple of minutes he returns unscathed, apart from the fact that his boiler suit is now all sparkly!
I had such an amazing time and didn't think I could get so hoarse and partched at a gig where the songs are not in my "mother's tongue". I ended up with an adoring fan myself because I was singing along so much. Sadly he was only about 18 and shorter than me. And no I was not wearing huge rock boots, men in Manchester seem to be made short! German GCSE and repeated listening to the songs mean I can sing some parts of songs and partly understand them, and other bits I can imitate the sound but won't be saying the right words.
As much as I liked Rammstein before I have become a little obsessed now. I fancy Till (even though he's old enough to be my dad). Songs keep getting stuck in my head, the most bothersome one being Ich tu dir weh. This song is part of the reason why LIFAD has had a limited release in Germany. It was placed on the "Index", a list of media not to be sold to minors, due to the sexual content of its lyrics. Whilst I can see their point to some extent, this is not the first Rammstein album with provocative lyrics and as far as I know none of the others are on the Index. Fortunately it is only the chorus that is stuck in my head (not that most people hearing me sing speak German)! If you're not easily shocked then head over to Herzeleid.com, a fantastic site that provides the lyrics and translations.
There were many videos on You Tube that I could have shared with you but I chose this one because it's the title track, and also because of it's superior quality. Enjoy!