What if your rhetoric of violence was eclipsed by reality? Kreator played at the Bataclan in Paris.
Kreator rocking the Bataclan Photo: Nagel
Mille Petrozza: "Are you ready to kill?"
"I said, are you ready to kill?" The singer makes a cutthroat gesture.
That’s how the documentary "Full Metal Village" about the Wacken Open Air in 2006 ends, and that’s also how the Kreator concert in Berlin’s Columbiahalle ends at the end of February 2017. With the song "Pleasure to kill" and the accompanying announcement. Like every concert on the current tour. "We always play the same setlist," says Mille. "It’s easier with all the routines then."
Reopening in November
The whole sequence, that is: various in- and outros, marching drums, fire bowls, fog, confetti, pyros, flames, a so-called "Co2 gun", a "Wall of Death" animated by the singer and the arrangements, which musician goes up the stage construction when and plays his guitar on the gallery above the drums. All this spread over 18 songs from over 30 years. If you stay in the violence analogy, then a Kreator show is like modern warfare. Where it’s also not about emotional outbursts or spontaneity, but about control, technique, precision.
Whether he will also bring the "Pleasure to kill" announcement on the coming Sunday, Mille is not sure after the show in the Columbiahalle. He still doesn’t know a few days later in Barcelona. The following Sunday the band will play in Paris. At the Bataclan.
Already twice before Kreator performed in the venerable concert hall. Then came the 13th. November 2015, when three IS-commissioned assassins with Kalashnikovs, hand grenades and explosive vests stormed the former Vaudeville Theater during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, killing 90 people. Attacks have happened before, attacks will continue to happen. But never did they specifically target a young, pleasure-seeking, music-loving audience. The Bataclan was also chosen by the terrorists because "hundreds of idolaters would have gathered there in a perverse celebration."
World War Now
Last November, the club reopened. With a concert by Sting. Whose songs have titles like "All for love" or "Spread a little hapiness". Those of Kreator: "Total Death", "Extreme Aggression", "Violent Revolution", "Enemy of God". Their website: kreator-terrorzone.de. The current album: "Gods of violence". What if your horror scenarios are caught up with reality? What if the violent rhetoric of your songs is completely eclipsed within a few hours by a small handful of lunatics? What if your metaphors are suddenly no longer metaphors?
"Gods of Violence" is also written big on the truck the band is currently on tour with. They will play almost 30 shows in Europe, 25 in the USA. Later in the year, Asia, Australia and South America are to be added. Festivals in between. Then Europe again.
The assertion of normality in a country that is still in a state of emergency.
The band was founded in 1982 in the north of Essen. "Gods of Violence" is their 14th album and the first to enter the German album charts at number 1. After 35 years of band history. Mille Petrozza is pleasantly unimpressed by this. "Actually, you really don’t care," he says in a growl a few octaves below his singing voice. "It’s still good," he says happily.
Kreator’s thrash metal has become more technically proficient over the years, more melodic and monumental than in the band’s early days, but no less aggressive. Behind the martial song titles there are references to Hannah Arendt, Ton Steine Scherben and Greek mythology. And yet, when you’re asked to play a song inspired by these very attacks, like "World War Now," in this very place, it does something to you. The topic comes up again and again on the tour bus, before and after the shows in Barcelona, Madrid and Toulouse. The band and their posse have known the Bataclan, the promoters and the local crew for years. Some know people who lost their lives, their health or their legs on November 13, 2015, and everyone deals with it differently.
The lump in the throat remains
"If I could choose, I wouldn’t enter the store anymore," says the monitor mixer, who was still losing sleep at night with articles and videos of the attacks. "The people at the store also puke when every band comes in there with long faces," the lighting technician is sure, and the bass player remarks between two drags from his cigarette: "If this were my store, I would have made a gotcha hall out of it." Dutiful gestures of consternation and holy seriousness can be laughed away. The lump in your throat remains. You think you have to relate to all this somehow. But do you really have to?
Early Sunday morning, the Nightliner rolls into rainy Paris. One by one, everyone peels themselves out of their bunks. The mood is different. Different than normal. A certain anxiety spreads, abstract, hardly tangible. As if no one wants to get on the other’s sack or even infect them with their trepidation. Mille Petrozza still hasn’t decided whether to make an announcement about the incidents tonight. "Probably I won’t say anything. Probably we will play a normal show." But even he knows: It’s not business as usual when you have to do business as usual.
After all, it was agreed to leave out the CO2 gun today. And yet this otherwise somewhat silly show gimmick at the Bataclan would not be without a certain irony. After all, Eagles of Death Metal singer Jesse Hughes claimed that the attack could have been prevented if the spectators had also been armed. Hughes is a self-confessed gun nut who has often attracted negative attention for his use of redneckery. In a right-wing blog, he had claimed that after the attacks of 13. November celebrating Muslims in the streets of Paris, and speculated that parts of the Bataclan security staff had been involved in the attack. When the club reopened, the singer was subsequently denied entry, and his band was disinvited from two French festivals again.
The tour bus stopped briefly at the corner in front of the club, unloaded the band and crew, and then drove right on. There is no parking here. At the corner of Rue Oberkampf the usual autograph collectors, early birds, Die Hard fans. Wait a minute. Rue Oberkampf? Die Hard fans?
For them it will be a normal Kreator concert, says a young woman. At least, that’s what she hopes. She also hopes the band will play the song "Suicide terrorist" tonight.
Except for a small plaque at the entrance of the Bataclan, nothing reminds of the attack a year and a half ago. There are also no special security measures, at least no visible ones. It is the assertion of normality in a country that is still in a state of emergency.
Bodies lay everywhere. At the merchandise stand. In the hall, in the gallery, backstage. Practically everywhere you walk and stand, bodies lay. Badly injured. Dead. Bleeding. Torn to shreds. There is video footage of people hanging out the window of the dressing room. That dressing room where the band will change and warm up today. "It may be that no one was shot in the toilets in the basement," says the organizer with a shrug. However, he is not quite sure.
Meanwhile, the crew has other problems. Normal problems. Earthly problems. It’s cramped at the Bataclan, inside and outside, on stage, in front of it, behind it. There is hardly any room for the empty flight cases. Due to fire regulations, pyros and flamethrowers may not be used today. The Nightliner has to park five kilometers away, which eliminates one of the pre-show retreat areas. Smoking is banned backstage, the WiFi signal is too weak for YouTube, and then some idiot forgot the juice mixer on the bus.
8:55 p.m., showtime Kreator. Iron Maiden is playing as the entrance music: "Run to the hills, run for your life," they sing along, in front of and behind the stage. It’s very tight and very hot. It is sold out. Then the lights go down, the intro sounds, Kreator go on stage and open like every night with "Hordes of chaos": "Everyone against everyone". The confetti cannon shoots its confetti, the stage divers rise into the air, and the band sets about bludgeoning everything away for 90 minutes. Just like every night. From "Satan is real" and "Total Death" to "Fallen Brother" and "World war now" to "Extreme Aggression" and "Pleasure to kill". Announcement included.
"It was cathartic," a survivor of November 13, 2015 will say after the show, and Mille Petrozza : "That’s when you first realize all you sing. " Not a word about the attacks. With their unflinching performance, the band says one thing above all: because of a few crazed maniacs, we do not change our show, our art or our lifestyle. Because if anyone here sings about death, violence and shit, it’s us.
Gods of Violence World Tour 2017, that’s contempt for death as it has to be.