I'd been waiting a long time for this trip. I'd seen Rammstein in Berlin at the end of 2004, and apart from a few gigs in early 2005 they hadn't played live since. At first I checked their website daily to see if new live dates were being announced; later I checked weekly. Later still I checked once in a while, my hopes dashed every time. I hadn't checked for months when I decided on a whim to have a look in May 2009.
The news was awesome. A new album was forthcoming, and a tour would start in November. All I needed to do was work out where to see them. Berlin again would have been cool, but the tickets were savagely expensive. Paris was easy to get to, but the tickets sold out there within hours. Poland? Couldn't find cheap flights. Norway? The tickets there were twice the price of even the Berlin ones. Spain or Portugal? Somehow the concept of Rammstein in sunny southern Europe seemed strange to me, but the tickets there were by far the cheapest. I bought my ticket and went to Lisbon for the opening night of the tour.
The next day I met an Argentinian girl, Alexia, at the hostel I was staying at. She was a journalist working in Madrid, and was here for a weekend break. We explored Lisbon together. She had no qualms about speaking to locals in Spanish when we needed to ask for directions. I wondered if they found that rude, but they helped us out happily enough.
We went up to the castle for some great views of Lisbon. Alexia was a true Argentine; while we were up there she brewed herself a maté, having brought her gourd and a thermos of hot water with her. I'd spent a long time in Argentina but I'd never actually tried maté. I tried now, and quite liked it. As we passed the gourd, another Argentine happened to be passing by, and instantly recognised a fellow countrywoman.
We got a train to Belém. It's famous for its tower and its pastries, and after we'd seen the tower we headed for the pastry shop. Then we went to the Centro Cultural de Belém. I didn't even know it existed, but it contained a fantastic contemporary art gallery. Seeing a bit of contemporary art is one of my favourite things to do in any city so I was very happy to have ended up here.
At 6pm it was time for me to head off. Gig time was approaching.
I got a train back into the centre of Lisbon, and then headed out to the Pavilhão Atlântico. I was incredibly excited about the gig, and only one problem stood in my way. I didn't have a ticket.
I'd bought and paid for one, but it had never turned up in London. A friendly guy from the ticket office had phoned me up and had told me it would be no problem. I'd just have to go to the box office on the night and pick up another. So I headed to the first box office I found and showed them an e-mail I'd been sent. They directed me to another box office, which directed me back to the first one. All the while, huge crowds of Iberian metallers were pouring into the venue.
The ticket offices couldn't decide between them what I should do. Eventually they told me to just join a queue and explain the situation to the people on the door. So I queued, explaining my situation in Spanish to a succession of bouncers, each less receptive and more bemused than the last. The final one was extremely reluctant to let me pass and had to talk to several people on his radio before opening the door and pushing me through into the arena.
It wasn't long until showtime. I'd missed most of the support act, but they were rubbish anyway. I made my way deep into the crowd of 20,000. The lights went down, we all cheered wildly, and the opening strains of Rammlied began. It was the first night of the tour and not everything went smoothly; the first big explosions was slightly mistimed, making me think for a fraction of a second that it wasn't part of the show. But I and everyone else moshed furiously. It was a stunning start to the show.
They played every single song off the new album, except the one I wanted above all, Mehr. That was the only disappointment. They played the classics like Du Hast, Feuer Frei, and Sonne. During Seemann, the keyboard player sailed out onto the crowd in a rubber dinghy in the traditional Rammstein way.
The second encore ended with Engel. It had been a stunning show and I headed home feeling like 38 Euros had been spectacular value for money. I was in an excellent mood, and the only dark cloud on the horizon was that I'd have to get up at 5am the next day to catch a flight to Belgium.