By Grayson Kent
Tuesday February 1, 2011. A night that will forever be etched into the annals of my metal memory as the night Ozzy Osbourne completely blew my fucking mind. Let us start at the beginning. I’d had these tickets since October, a birthday gift from my parents. They know how much Ozzy and his music means to me and while they have not understood my taste in music they have supported it. To say I was excited for the show would be a gross understatement. This was to be my third Ozzy concert and I hadn’t seen him in over three years. If there’s one thing I love more than going to metal concerts, it’s going to metal concerts with my good buddies. My parents had bought me four tickets, so I has fortunate enough to have companions with me: Brett, my best friend of twenty years and fellow veteran of Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Steel Panther, and King Diamond; Ian, my college roommate whose metal chops I had whetted with trips to see Heaven & Hell, Anvil, DragonForce, and Rob Halford; and Melody, my coworker whose metal cherry I was to pop. This was to be her very first metal show and in my eyes she was naught but a virgin sacrifice to be offered up to the Prince of Fucking Darkness.
Several hours before the show, we gathered at my house for that most sacred of rock ‘n’ roll rituals, the rolling of the joints. Now I must admit, I don’t roll the prettiest of joints but they get the job done. I painstakingly prepared three to be split among myself, Brett, and Melody—Ian doesn’t toke and thus was our designated a driver—liberally coating each with kief and sprinkling small chunks of hash into them. “Flying High Again” ain’t one of my favorite Ozzy tunes for nothing. Joints rolled, we headed out the door. Little did I know I had left the tickets on my bed, but a check of my pockets revealed the loss before we got to the end of my street. Disaster averted, we had a surprisingly short drive down to Universal City Walk. The concert was to be held at the Gibson Amphitheater, a venue that is very special to me because it was where I saw Maiden for the first time. After a dinner of delicious shrimp at Bubba Gump, the four of us were ready to rock.
Forgive me, but I seem to have left out a crucial detail. I haven’t told you who the opening act was. It was none other than Slash. He apparently put out a solo album recently and was touring to promote it. I’d seen Slash previous play with Queen and ZZ Top and I really didn’t care too much. I’m not a GNR fan and personally think he is overrated. That being said, he was one of the better opening acts I’ve seen. His set was quite enjoyable, although I missed most of the first song trying to bum a lighter off someone. I had left mine in the car and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my sweet leaf during the main event. Melody was luckily able to procure one and we were once again spared from doom.
About half an hour after Slash finished playing, the lights darkened. The audience rose to its feet and began to roar. I promptly lit my first doobie, which I could barely smoke for laughing at the video intro. Ozzy always starts his shows with a video montage of him superimposed into current movies and TV shows and making crude jokes. It was goddamn hilarious. The best part was the Twilight spoof in which Ozzy, in his role as Edward, firmly bashed the undead saying that “Vampires are pussies. I’m the Prince of Fucking Darkness!” Video completed, Ozzy took the stage, yelled at us to go fucking crazy, and launched into “Bark At The Moon.”
The concert was phenomenal. Clearly sober living has done Ozzy wonders because he was more explosively energetic than I had ever seen him. His singing was on top form and he didn’t stop moving for more than two seconds at a time. The electricity in the air was a palpable force and I tapped into the metal energy through the upraised horns constantly through Ozzy’s way. His set list was great, including nearly a half dozen Sabbath hits and “Shot In The Dark,” which I never thought I would ever hear played live. By far the best part of the show was the drum solo. The drum riser rose fifteen feet into the air on this cranelike apparatus, belching dry ice smoke the whole time. It wasn’t as musically complicated as Vinny Appice’s drum cage or as epic as when Robb Reiner smashed out “White Rhino” but in terms of sheer aesthetic awesomeness, this solo took the cake. The whole atmosphere of the concert made me feel like I was back in the 80s during Ozzy’s prime. What I was most interested to see, however, was how the new guitarist lived up to Zakk Wylde’s monster reputation. Gus G is a very different guitarist than Wylde and impressed me immensely, although we all know Randy Rhoads was the best Ozzy ever played with . . .
Ozzy took the crazy train off the rails for more than two hours, during which I didn’t stop dancing, headbanging, or screaming my bloody lungs out. Truly it was an epic concert. Melody, a mere acolyte to the world of metal, loved the show so much she asked me to burn her a CD of the songs Ozzy sang that night. Ian said it was the best show he’d ever been to, better even than ZZ Top (his absolute favorite band). I had come in with high expectation, but I hadn’t been counted on having them so utterly exceeded. Some people are stunned to hear that Ozzy is still touring. Isn’t he all burnt out? they ask. The fools. Ozzy is still going strong, my friends, and may his glorious reign of darkness last for many more years to come. \m/