We saw Rammstein play two shows in the most metal city on the planet, and f**k!

Rammstein onstage in Tampere, Finland
(Image credit: Fraser Lewry)

Back in 2012, Reddit user depo_ made a map. Combining data from Encyclopaedia Metallum and the CIA's World Factbook, he came up with a graphic image that showed the number of heavy metal bands per capita, throughout the world.  

World Heavy Metal Map

(Image credit: depo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)])

As you might expect, the Nordic nations came out on top, and Finland were the most metal of all, with an astonishing 53.2 heavy metal bands per 100,000 residents. To give you an idea of just how monstrously metal that is, it's ten times as many metal bands per capita as either The UK or The USA. 

So if Finland is the undisputed kingdom of metal, what's its capital city? Last year Finnish website Capital Of Metal attempted to find out, and came to the conclusion that Lemi, a small town of just 3000 inhabitants in rural Southeast Finland, was the champion. 

13 bands in the town extrapolates to a mind-boggling score of 422.6 metal bands per 100,000, but we're not entirely convinced. Although Lemi's ratio is impressive, the sample size is small, and it's only the 229th largest municipality in Finland. Hardly capital city material, right? 

Our choice? Tampere. The biggest Finnish city out side of the Helsinki metropolitan area, the Capital Of Metal survey found 74 suitable bands in the city. What's more, the favourite local delicacy is blood sausage, the most metal of all meals.

And look. Here's a video proclaiming just how metal Tampere is.  

Tampere is definitely metal. Just check out this bar. 

The Thrasherie bar in Tampere

(Image credit: Fraser Lewry)

It's little wonder, then, that Rammstein chose Tampere as the site for their Finnish shows this summer, booking a show at the city's Ratina Stadium – the former home of Tampere United, who were expelled by the Finnish Football Association in 2011 amidst allegations of money laundering and match fixing – and then a second once the first had sold out.

Tampere's streets are throbbing with Rammstein fans in the build-up to the show. Rammstein t-shirts are everywhere. Even Tampere's local businesses, it would seem, have embraced the visit. 


(Image credit: Fraser Lewry)

After Rammstein's spectacular recent show in Milton Keynes, we know what to expect. The show is near-identical in every detail, as you'd expect for a performance so tightly choreographed, and although the immersive, disorientating nature of the production doesn't feel quite as claustrophobic as it did at Stadium MK – Ratina Stadium is open on three sides – it's no less overwhelming. 

From the moment acrid black smoke pumps into the air as the extraordinarily ominous Was Ich Liebe winds it way to a climax, to the piano version of Sonne that tinkles from the PA as the band takes their bows and leave the stage, the show is a startling mix of pantomime and pyromania.

It's also a show that packs an extraordinary emotional wallop. The size of the spectacle is part of it – the staging looks like an oil rig plucked straight from the set of Mad Max: Fury Road – and if you're standing on the floor of the arena you're essentially inside the production. Each time flames erupt from the relay towers you get a blast of heat so intense it's disconcerting, and the volume is physical. Those brute-force riffs thump. You feel them in your chest. 

The set pieces are spectacular. During Puppe, a demented-looking Till Lindemann wheels a giant flaming pram onstage: inside is a screaming, horrific baby that belches black soot. In Mein Tei, the traditional attempts to roast keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz as he hides in a cauldron are enhanced by a trio of increasingly ridiculous flamethrowers. 

There's the usual fireworks during Du Hast, as Till shoots fire from a crossbow, the sparks racing towards the back of the stadium before returning and exploding into the main stage. And there's Pussy, as Lindemann rides a canon as it spunks soapy goo across those foolhardy enough to have gathered near the front. 

Most spectacular is Sonne, a barrage of fire and brimstone so fierce – and so loud, and so relentless – that you can feel your senses overloading. It's genuinely, viscerally overpowering.

Rammstein onstage in Tampere

(Image credit: Fraser Lewry)

There are also moments of surprising tenderness. Ohne Dich, which closes the main set, feels like the soundtrack to the closing moments of an epic movie, the calm after a spectacularly violent storm. Diamant is low-key and lovely. And there's an enchanting version of Engel, with the band accompanied on a second stage by the French piano pairing Duo Jatekok. Phone lights sparkle, the lyrics are flashed up on a screen so people can sing along, and it climaxes as the band are gently ferried back towards the main stage in rubber dinghies. Beautiful.

Deutschland is surprisingly moving. At the beginning of the 1990s Finland was on its knees, its economy wrecked in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, its principle trading partner. In 1995 it joined the EU, and a quarter of a century on, the country has a higher per capita GDP than Hong Kong, Canada or The UK. It's a stunning turnaround, and as the crowd bellows "Deutschland" (a country they fought during the Lapland War of 1944-45), it feels like a celebration. 

There's a great moment on the second night, which will have gone unnoticed by most. The two rows in front of Classic Rock are occupied by what looks like a select band of VIPs. They'e not wearing band t-shirts: instead, they look dressed for a night out enjoying New Nordic Cuisine at a fashionably expensive eatery. But by the time Auslander hoves into view three of them are on their feet, dancing with no small amount of freedom, while two women are headbanging in their seats.

At the end of the show, Rammstein board an elevator that slowly climbs the main tower at the centre of the stage. They wave, and as they near the top of the gantry there's a bang, and a flash, as if something has fused. And they disappear. As if by magic.  

Right now, there is no better stadium show on earth than Rammstein's. They're a better big venue live act than the Rolling Stones. Better than Guns N' Roses. Better than Metallica. Better than U2. And if AC/DC decide to come back next year for one final spin around the globe, those canons are going to look pretty puny. 

Rammstein tour Europe again next year

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.