Review of Ozzy Osbourne gig at 1st Mariner Arena

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!

Review of Psycroptic gig at Jaxx

While many people are returning home on the Sunday night following Thanksgiving, I found myself heading down to Jaxx again on the 28th of November 2010. Psycroptic and Keep Of Kalessin, the opening bands on Nile and Ex Deo‘s fall tour were playing a few extra shows without the headliners, and this was the date they came through the area. It wasn’t a long show, only four bands played, and it ended early at around 10pm. Pathology was supposed to be part of the touring line up, but they were involved in a major accident in November (more details here) that ended all touring plans for them. There wasn’t a huge crowd for this show, but that was sort of to be expected. It was still a lot of fun and I finally got to see Psycroptic play live.

The first band to play was local death metal act Orgy Of The Damned. I had seen them play before at the Blood And Fire Festival back in July. They’re still really young, most of the guys had black Xs on their hands. That’s fine though, as again their youthful excitement for the music comes through as a big plus in their set. They played Reanimator which was pretty fun to see live. It’s one of the songs they are giving away for free on my download page if you want to check it out. They also played a cover of the Cannibal Corpse classic Hammer Smashed Face that was pretty cool. In another cue taken from Cannibal Corpse, at the end of their set the vocalist, Jeff Wright, said he “lied” about them not playing Feces Fiend and they closed with that song. The next band up was another local act, Trihexyn. They’re pretty good, just not my kind of metal really. I knew what to expect since I’d seen them before at the State Theatre as part of the second Mandatory Metal night there. They rely heavily on using clean vocals which is something I generally am not a fan of (there are exceptions of course). They are pretty good and have well written songs that they play pretty well so don’t get me wrong here, I’m just not their target audience. They do switch to a more rough vocal style for some parts, and I do find that to be more enjoyable, but I seemed to be in the minority about a few things this evening anyways. Also, the bass player had pink hair, which was a bit weird too but hey metal isn’t supposed to be about fashion anyways (don’t tell that to Cradle Of Filth though!). I’ve got a video of them below so check them out, maybe you’ll like them more than I do.

The next band to play was Norway’s black metal band Keep Of Kalessin. I really didn’t like their newest album, Reptilian, and sadly (for me) their set was mostly made of material from it. It’s all about dragons which wouldn’t be so bad except there’s a lot of that clean vocal singing going on again. So yeah, I’ve become that fan of theirs, the guy who likes only the old stuff. I seemed to be in the minority about that because the audience was reacting well to their performance. And they did play Crown Of The Kings, which is one of their older songs that is totally awesome, but they didn’t play Come Damnation, which is my favorite song of theirs. Their set was only about 40 minutes or so, so I guess they were just doing the same basic set list of songs from their Nile tour, mostly just supporting their new album. I thought they would have played a bit longer, and while I figured they’d play a good amount of their newer material, I also thought they’d play some older stuff since they had the chance to play a longer set. They closed with Kolossus which is a solid song, so overall it wasn’t bad, just not my favorite material for most of the set.

The final band of the night was Psycroptic coming all the way from Tasmania. I’ve wanted to catch them for a long time, as they’re probably my favorite technical death metal band these days (Decrepit Birth is up there too though) and I’ve waited a few years now to catch them live. I didn’t see them earlier this year at Sonar with Nile because I knew this show was coming up and I’d rather go to the closer venue, for less money when they headline. They did play an awesome set, though again it was short. I enjoyed the show a lot and got so caught up with it that when it ended I was kinda mad I’d only shot video of two songs! For me the highlight of the evening was when they played (Ob)Servant, which is just a kick ass metal song. Really, all the songs they played are pretty damn sick. It was like they were putting on a tutorial how you do tech death! I was hoping that since they were headlining they’d play a longer set but they didn’t really. They didn’t play The Colour Of Sleep nor Alpha Breed, two of my favorite songs of theirs. Same as with Keep Of Kalessin, I really wished they’d taken advantage of the headlining slot to play a longer set and included more older material. Their vocalist was a temporary fill in on this tour while their normal singer was staying home to be with his newborn. He did a decent job, his stage presence wasn’t bad and he had a hell of a lot of energy up there, literally jumping around and helping to keep the audience excited. Really though, nobody goes to see Psycroptic because of the vocals, their guitar work is crazy and the drummer is pretty damn tight too. They didn’t have a huge crowd and Keep Of Kalessin seemed to have a larger audience when they played. That didn’t matter to me, I was there to finally see Psycroptic play, and other than the set being so damn short, they didn’t disappoint at all. And I’ve got the videos below to prove it, check em out: