Flame throwers, treadmills, a giant pram and band members ‘sailing’ across fans in inflatable dinghies – Rammstein’s headline set at Stadium MK on Saturday had it all, and then some.
The German rock titans were in town for the only UK show of their European tour and it was a spectacular onslaught on the senses from start to finish.
Now in their 25th year, the six-piece are seasoned pros at this and are back on tour armed with their first new music in a decade.
Last seen on these shores to headline the Download Festival in 2016, it’s seven years since they were here on their own headline tour.
Milton Keynes is no stranger to welcoming musical heavyweights, with the town’s National Bowl having previously hosted some of the biggest acts in the world.
Joining Rammstein were classical French piano act Jatekok who played on the ‘B’ stage nestled among fans mid-way back in the stadium.
Rammstein’s stage itself was a sight to behold, a multi-level industrial beast towering into the sky and out above the stadium.
Maybe reflecting German industrial heritage, it looked almost religious given its sheer audacity.
And yes, it of course spewed flames and putrid black smoke into the air on regular occasions.
Rammstein arrived one by one with drummer Christoph Schneider signalling the beginning of the show with a drum strike which triggered a giant explosion of smoke which engulfed the stage.
Guitarist Paul Landers, keyboard player Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz, guitarist Richard Kruspe and bassist Oliver Riedel emerged as dark smoke continued to bellow into the air.
All in equally flamboyantly attire, it was Flake dressed all in gold and Riedel in an entirely red outfit and mask who dazzled.
The five played an extended version of new track Was ich Liebe before they all moved to their respective stage positions.
More smoke bellowed for the arrival of singer Till Lindemann, who waked on-stage wearing snakeskin-esque army outfit, complete with a full-length trench coat.
While exuding energy, Lindemann’s accompanying makeup gave a ‘war weary’ look to the Rammstein’s leader.
The slower placed opener gave way to Links 2-3-4 - a chugging, stomping, staple of Rammstein’s arsenal which was met with red stage banners sporting the band’s logo dropping into place.
By this time Flake, now perched aloft stage left, was marching away on his treadmill, arms out either side playing a keyboard with each hand.
There’s always been a healthy dose of theatrics and almost pantomime entertainment to Rammstein, with some tried and tested routines included in their set.
For Puppe, Lindemann lifted a giant pram from the depths of the stage, proceeding to push it across the stage before flames shot out from inside it.
Throughout their set most of the band remained in their respective stage positions, leaving Lindemann to be the one prowling around, occasionally crouching forward striking a thigh with his fist in time with the music.
Much of Rammstein’s music follows a similar pattern, big rock riffs you could march an army to with electronics and keys wrapped around them.
However, the pace was slowed down for Diamant which featured just Flake, Riedel and Lindemann.
The band left the sage while a remix of Deutschland was played by guitarist Kruspe, perched high amid the main tower, as four dancers below dressed in black with illuminated white limbs and hoods danced away.
When Rammstein returned, they launched into the full version of the track, a recent single, which was among the highlights of the night.
From here on in, it was virtually hit after hit. Radio followed before Mein Teil saw Flake climb inside a giant cauldron on wheels only to be ‘cooked’ by Lindemann – sporting an apron and chef’s hat – using a succession of larger and larger flame throwers, only stopping when Flake waved a white flag.
Rammstein motored through rock club staples Du Hast and Sonne as flames reached out into the sky from the stage and from the tops of the speaker stacks in the stadium.
For Engel, Rammstein decamped to their second stage where they were joined by Jatekok with camera phone flashes lighting up the arena.
Naturally, the band returned to the main stage for their first encore on three inflatable dinghies carried on the outstretched arms.
In true Rammstein fashion, Pussy ended with Lindemann riding a giant phallic machine along the front of the stage spraying foam into the audience.
It was only following set closers Rammstein and Ich Will that Lindemann finally addressed the Milton Keynes audience, thanking them, as all six band members bowed to the thousands packed inside as flames again reached skywards from the stage’s central tower.
Despite almost every song at Stadium MK being sung in the band’s native language, it didn’t stop many singing along to every word.
Rammstein are stunning to behold live. Relentlessly heavy, exciting, a little daft at times but ultimately masters of what they do.
Was ich liebe
Mein Herz brennt
Du riechst so gut