Saturday, December 22, 2007 – Madison Square Garden
My first live experience of heavy metal was pretty hard to beat: metal godfather Ozzy Osbourne, with shock-rock extraordinaire Rob Zombie opening. Both were early favorites of mine going back to high school (still are), so it was an auspicious start to my show-going hobby.
The venue couldn’t have been better, either: Madison Square Garden, the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Arena.” I had been there before to see The Who, but never for a metal concert. My companion that night wasn’t the biggest metalhead, but had played enough Guitar Hero and seen enough horror movies to know who these guys were. His passionate crush on Sherri Moon Zombie may have also helped.
It was a successful time for both men, with Osbourne coming off a successful release called “Black Rain” (to be his last recording with guitarist Zakk Wylde). Zombie, meanwhile, had signed on to direct a remake of “Halloween.” Both are high-grade showmen, which was by no means a detraction from the music. The experience of being in the bowl of Madison Square Garden (the side 200s section about halfway up, stage left) was simply huge.
1. Sawdust In The Blood
2. American Witch
3. Demon Speeding
4. Living Dead Girl
5. More Human Than Human
7. House of 1000 Corpses
8. Let It All Bleed Out
9. Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
10. Thunder Kiss 65
11. The Devil’s Rejects
I was introduced to Rob Zombie years before this show, when he contributed the song “Reload” to the soundtrack of “The Matrix: Reloaded.” The chances of him doing that little gem tonight were slim indeed, but he had plenty of other good songs up his sleeve, both from his solo career and from his White Zombie days. He bounced around effusively in his trademark cowboy hat while the audience did what his music is made for: a combination of dancing and headbanging. When you see thirty thousand people doing that all at once, it’s an uplifting testament to the power of metal.
He was periodically joined by a supersized animatronic alien figure, and green and red spotlights flew. Sherri Moon Zombie pranced and twirled in her corpse paint, much to my friend’s delight. The highlight had to have been “Thunderkiss 65,” which saw everything stop as guitarist John 5 embarked on a mini-Eruption of a guitar solo. Zombie’s first big solo hit “Dragula” served as a finale, a big finish that saw audience yells of “ZOM-BIE! ZOM-BIE!” gradually replaced by “OZ-ZY! OZ-ZY!”
The Ozz-man and the audience were more than ready when he took over the show a few minutes later. Wearing all black, he came out swinging with his new hit, “I Don’t Wanna Stop,” and surprised many by doing “Crazy Train” right afterwards.
Hotshot lead guitarist Zakk Wylde was his usual feedback-heavy, pinch-harmonicking self, his white and black spiral guitar flashing. He frequently took a knee near his amp and pounded his chest like a wildman. An extended guitar solo featuring “The Star Spangled Banner” was an enormous highlight (with a few pauses for deep draughts of beer).
1. I Don’t Wanna Stop
2. Crazy Train
3. Suicide Solution
4. Mr. Crowley
5. Not Going Away
6. Into The Void
7. Road To Nowhere
8. Fire In The Sky
9. Bark At The Moon
10. Zakk Wylde Guitar Solo
11. I Don’t Know
12. Here For You
13. I Don’t Wanna Change the World
14. Mama, I’m Coming Home
But Ozzy would not be upstaged by his guitarist. He gleefully sprayed the first rows with his confetti gun and never looked as if he wasn’t having the time of his life.
“This is a song that a long time ago, people said I couldn’t play anymore because it was a touchy subject. And I said ‘Fuck you!’” he cried as an intro to “Suicide Solution” without a hint of malice. And yes–you could understand what he was saying!
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve played air guitar leads off my couch to “Bark At the Moon,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home” had a tough New York audience singing along. Ozzy closed a fun-filled night with the finest song to ever feature his vocals: “Paranoid.” As he lovingly bid Madison Square Garden good night, you wouldn’t know he suffered from tremendous stage fright, or that he developed his singing style from listening to the drunks at the pub growing up.
Although not all my shows would be large arena affairs like this, I was officially hooked on live metal. “Baptize me, Ozzy!” I recall yelling. And in that crazy-uncle way of his, he did. Thank you Ozzy, and your kindred spirit Rob, for giving me my first true metal experience.
Written by Matt P