Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
23rd September 2022
It has been more than ten years since I originally saw Rammstein, an event which still ranks at or near the top of the greatest concerts I have experienced. Mind you, it has been more than two years since this event was originally scheduled to take place: it was supposed to happen in September 2020, before things went a bit pear-shaped. For both reasons, calling this “eagerly anticipated” is likely an understatement, and probably plays into why I didn’t feel like it quite lived up to expectations. Oh, it was still good: certainly worth the 750-mile round trip. But not quite the life-altering experience, redefining the entire concept of a live show, which was the 2012 event.
We ummed and ahhed over whether to fly, but in the end, opted to take the six-hour drive instead. It was straightforward: the I-10 is less than a mile from TC Towers, and goes all the way from Phoenix into downtown Los Angeles. There was surprisingly little traffic, in part because we were going into the city on a Friday afternoon, when everyone else was coming out. But this was definitely a case where we had no intention of taking the car anywhere. Arrive at the hotel, park at the hotel, take an Uber to/from the venue, which was about three miles from said hotel. This was wise, even though it being the weekend in downtown LA meant traffic there was light. Foot traffic was lighter still. The first time I came, flying out from London in the nineties, I expected “downtown” to be a vibrant happening place. It’s not. There’s a reason the song goes “nobody walks in LA.”
Speaking of the hotel, we lucked out, being unaware of the history of the Millennium Biltmore. A century of history is not much by British standards, but it’s practically Stonehenge for California. The inside still looks much as it did when it opened in 1923, with high ceilings, murals and corridors which gave us a serious Shining vibe (below). There’s even large photos of previous events hanging on the walls, and we would not have been surprised to see ourselves in the picture. The Oscars took place there a number of times, up until 1942, and the place is reputedly the most haunted hotel in Los Angeles, among other things being one of the last places the Black Dahlia murder victim, Elizabeth Short, was seen alive. Let the record show, we experienced absolutely no paranormal experiences during our stay.
Getting to the venue was…interesting. We were wise not to drive: parking would have been insane, with street lots demanding $60 for a spot that was still a 20-minute walk from the gate. The Uber ended up getting stuck in traffic, which allowed the driver to regale us with horror stories about what a terrible area it was. And by “area”, I mean Los Angeles, which was described in terms that made Mogadishu in Black Hawk Down times, seem like the South of France,. Though he did have a point. Uber contacted both him and Chris separately, checking to make sure we were okay: we had not moved for so long, the company was concerned we were perhaps dead. In the end, we bailed and walked the rest of the way. The area indeed was somewhat sketchy, but with thousands of other Rammstein fans around, we never felt any real threat.
The venue had held the summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984, and is now operated by the University of Southern California. It can hold up to 77,500, but there were a lot of sections blocked off for one reason or another, and I’m guessing there were 30-40,000 in attendance. It was still likely the largest event we’ve been at since Wrestlemania 26. With the slow progress to the venue, we got to our seats about five minutes before Rammstein showed up, with admirably Teutonic precision at the same time as every other stop on the tour. It was several times the size of the 2012 venue, and that did dilute the power of the spectacle. This being an open-air venue probably made a difference too, even if the sound was still loud enough to rattle your innards and leave Chris slightly deaf for a day or two – and we were sitting well towards the back. The stage set (below) was huge: note the tiny band member, bottom mid-left, for scale.
Given the size, it would have been nice to have had large video screens showing the band, but the Duran Duran concert was much better equipped in this area. The monitors here were only useful during the pause between sets, where they focused on audience members, most of whom chose to take their tops off. Male or female: both were cheered enthusiastically for their participation. It also didn’t feel like the band had particularly upscaled things, except for the multiple pillars (top), which spewed fire into the sky with enough venom, that we genuinely flinched on a number of occasions. After a subdued start, things did feel like they ramped up as the show went on, with Du Hast presenting the best pyrotechnics. However, when you’ve seen front man Til Lindemann riding a giant penis, spraying foam on to the front 30 rows once… There wasn’t the same perpetual sense of “What the fuck is going to happen next?” now. You can never experience Rammstein for the first time, twice.
Musically, though, this was as tight a show as ever, and at two and a quarter hours long, spanning their entire 30-year career, I can’t complain. Mein Herz Brennt was a stand-out, together with Engel, largely performed as a piano version (Til’s fiery peacock was undeniably impressive), and Rammstein. We left, slightly toasted and smelling vaguely of flammable liquids. Took a while to eventually figure out where the Uber pick-up zone was, only doing so after significant wandering, and also twisting my ankle on a shitty sidewalk. [More evidence of a failed city-state, right there] We could likely have walked back to the hotel faster. But, again: nobody walks in LA…
- Armee der Tristen
- Zick Zack
- Links 2-3-4
- Zeig dich
- Mein Herz brennt
- Heirate mich
- Mein Teil
- Du hast
- Du riechst so gut
- Ich will