Ozzy Osbourne holds a strange place in my heart. He is by no means my favorite artist of the world, yet I have immense respect for him and his music. It may be true that if one's only exposure to him is via MTV's The Osbournes he understandably comes across as a burned-out, washed-up, ex-drug abuser. Yet, if one scratches below that popular surface it will be discovered that Ozzy is not only a master of stagecraft, but he possesses a nuanced knowledge of the role of frontman as well.
Such skills were in full force during his November 2nd show at Veterans' Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa on November 2nd. After Rob Zombie's under par performance (read my review here) Ozzy was bestowed the duty of ensuring that the thousands of fans in attendance wouldn't go home unsatisfied and angry. Needless to say, the Godfather of Heavy Metal did not disappoint.
Commencing the show with a single off his latest album, Ozzy wasted no time in giving the audience what they wanted. The rabid fans in the first section were not only treated to their favorite newest song, but also to drenches of water and foam as well. To be more specific, Mr. Osbourne began dumping buckets of water and squirting a hose full of crazy foam onto all of them. Needless to say, I was envious of the front row's proximity to such an amazing spectacle of showmanship and gimmick.
But Ozzy did not rely on spectacle alone to prove his place among hard rock's greats. Partnering with guitar legend Zakk Wylde, the two hammered through a diverse cross-section of the infamous Ozzy catalog. 'Shot in the Dark' was played third song in, and 'Fire in the Sky' was a great mid-show treat. Throughout these showings, Ozzy made sure he told everybody how much he appreciated their support by shouting "I fu***ng love you all!!." At about the hour mark, Ozzy took a break to leave the stage and lent the limelight to Wylde, who wisely used the 15 minute segment to display technical perfection via a 'Star Spangled Banner' inspired guitar solo.
When Ozzy re-emerged, he did his best to bestow upon his fans the songs they craved. 'Road to Nowhere' was sung, as was 'I Don't Want to Change the World.' By the time the encore arrived, he had performed 'Mama, I'm Coming Home' and 'Paranoid' from his Black Sabbath days. The two-hour mark reluctantly arrived when Ozzy confered his greatest symbol of gratitude upon the Iowa crowd: he bowed endlessly while screaming, "I love you all!" In typical fashion, the lights then dimmed and the self-proclaimed "madman" slowly disappeared from sight.
It was for that reason I left the Ozzy concert feeling satisfied and grateful...satisfied I saw one of rock's greatest legends live, and grateful I was fortunate to witness one of its most humble.
I've included two of my favorite Ozzy songs that were (unfortunately) not performed at the concert. Enjoy:
Ozzy Osbourne - 'No More Tears'
Ozzy Osbourne - 'You Can't Kill Rock and Roll'