So Monday the 29th of November 2010 started off pretty normally for me, normal routine of going to work and all. I’d just seen Psycroptic and Keep Of Kalessin play Jaxx the night before, so I had a review to work on (you can read that here) but otherwise it was a normal day. Then my girlfriend called me to tell me she’d gotten me an early Xmas present, a 10th row ticket to see Ozzy that night at Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena! Well the work day couldn’t go by fast enough at that point. The venue actually granted me a photo pass for Rob Halford‘s set (the opening act) but Ozzy’s people wouldn’t give me one. It didn’t really matter as I didn’t have my nice camera with me at work and I couldn’t make it to the venue early enough if I went home to get it. I did get to the venue around 8pm and I had been told Ozzy would hit the stage at 8:45 so instead of going through security to buy an expensive dinner, I hit up a little deli across the street. I got myself a pastrami sandwich, cheaper and better than anything inside the arena I’m sure, and headed into the venue. After sneaking my camera through security I headed to my seat. And again for the second time now at 1st Mariner Arena, the second I got to my seat I looked up at the stage and right then Ozzy came out to start the concert. Perfect timing again! The first time this happened was when I saw Slayer and Megadeth there in October and you can read my review of that here.
Since I completely missed Rob Halford’s set I won’t comment on that. I wasn’t too upset though since I’m not much of a Judas Priest fan anyways. I am, however, a huge Black Sabbath and Ozzy fan. The reason I’m such a huge metal head has a lot to do with Black Sabbath and the fact that I even run this website does too. That said, I know he’s past his prime, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love every second of this concert. The last time I saw Ozzy was almost three years ago in January 2008 at the Verizon Center. That wasn’t the greatest show, he had been sick and it was a short set and they all seemed to be just going through the motions. This concert fully made up for it though! This was the first time I have gotten to see the new guitarist, Gus G, play live with Ozzy, and the band definitely seemed more energized than when I saw them in 2008. Gug G did a great job of playing songs by each of his four main predecessors, Tony Iommi, Randy Rhodes, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde, and they played one of his own songs, Let Me Hear You Scream, too. I have video of him playing songs by each of these guys from this concert posted below so you can see how he handles them, so check them out at the end of the post. There was also a second guitarist on some songs, I think mostly the Black Sabbath songs really. This was actually the keyboardist Adam Wakeman, who also has played with Black Sabbath. He didn’t have any guitar solos and only played rhythm guitar and stayed out of the spotlight for most of the show. Ozzy’s voice started out a bit rough this show, but after his voiced dropped out a couple of times early on, he seemed to get it together and mostly stay on track for the rest of the show. He was entertaining as always, and he brought out his big foam-shooting hose several times throughout the night to spray the audience as well as himself. He really seemed to have a lot of energy up there, much more than the last time I saw him. There were a lot of loud booming fireworks and a sort of fire-rain pyrotechnics thing at the beginning of Mr. Crowley. All of this showed why after 40 years Ozzy is still headlining arenas, his shows are always over the top.
The setlist focused mostly on what are probably the two most popular albums of Ozzy’s career, Paranoid by Black Sabbath and Blizzard Of Ozz, his first solo record. The only Randy Rhodes era songs were from Blizzard, and they played the staples Mr. Crowley, Suicide Solution, Crazy Train and I Don’t Know. The only Black Sabbath songs played were all from Paranoid, and they of course played Iron Man, War Pigs, Paranoid as well as Fairies Wear Boots and they even incorporated the instrumental Rat Salad in the band solos. That was actually pretty damn awesome. They started it off as a sort of all band jam doing Rat Salad that morphed into a killer guitar solo by Gus G. He didn’t play with his teeth or behind his head like Zakk did the last time I saw Ozzy, but it was nice to hear a different style of guitarist up there shredding (and none of those pig squeal things Zakk does every fucking 5 seconds). They went back into a full band jam for a brief bit, before drummer Tommy Clufetos started on a pretty crazy drum solo of his own. They raised the platform the drums were on and his extended solo was pretty damn impressive, and included a bit of audience participation and fireworks too, which was all pretty cool. I had actually seen him do a big drum solo like this at the last Ozzy show I saw, but he was playing with the opener Rob Zombie then. The whole solo wrapped up as the band finally finished their rendition of Rat Salad. That was such a fresh take on that song, and was really one of the most fun solo/jam sessions I’ve seen at an Ozzy show since I saw Joe Holmes do a crazy guitar solo based around Symptom Of The Universe in the 90s. Hell, this might have been better than that actually. Anyways, I wasn’t missing Zakk Wylde at this point, and I’m not sure if he meant it that way or not, but Ozzy didn’t seem to be either when he stated between songs that the old material was the best! They did play a few Zakk songs, most notably the track Fire In The Sky from No Rest For The Wicked in 1988. The crowd seemed bewildered when he played this, I don’t think most people there knew this song at all. I got video of it though as I knew how rare this was for him to play, and you can see most people just sorta standing around like zombies. I don’t think that song has been in the live rotation for almost 20 years, so that was something pretty cool for the Ozzy die hard fans out there, instead of just playing all hits.
In all I had a great fucking time. The show was fantastic, 100 times better than the last really, and he played for the better part of 2 hours. Getting to see Ozzy is always a concert highlight of the year for me, and this was really one of the best shows I’ve seen him do in a very long time. I did like Zakk but I very much welcome the new guitarist, Gus G, to the fold and really I can’t wait to see them play again. Well, thanks for reading this whole thing. And don’t forget I’ve got a contest going on right now to give away a pair of tickets to see The Sword at the 9:30 Club on Monday, the 6th of December 2010. Go here to enter to win. You don’t have to sign up for anything to do it. Once you’re done with that check out the videos below that I shot from the floor, some of my best video footage yet (they even posted my video of Fairies Wear Boots to the official Ozzy Facebook and Twitter pages!). I’m really glad the venue wasn’t strict about using cameras down there. I recommend checking out my video for War Pigs as that should give you a good idea of my view at the concert. Enjoy!