Ozzy Osbourne + more

Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie & In This Moment
Wachovia Spectrum (Philadelphia, PA)
January 10, 2008

In a time when rock’s greatest stars have become middle-aged family men and worthwhile younger bands are confined to clubs, even the year’s best arena rock tour can look more like Spinal Tap than The Song Remains the Same. This was the case when Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, and In This Moment graced the stage of the Wachovia Spectrum (Philadelphia, PA). But, let’s face it, even when an artist is a little (or quite a bit, as the last third of the night proved) past their prime, it’s hard not to get excited about a full night of rock anthems, pyrotechnics, and lighthearted blasphemy.

The night began with its heaviest portion, provided by In This Moment. This up-and-coming band’s sound blends symphonic metal and L.A. hardcore. Unfortunately, their set was only twenty minutes, hurting the impact of the most relevant and thriving band on the bill. As could’ve been expected, the mustached, mulleted, and beer-gutted specimens who filled the audience remained seated and fidgetless as vocalist Maria Brink howled and flung herself across the stage. She had the same adorably psychotic stage presence of Karen O as she skipped across the stage in a ruffled dress and Chuck Taylor’s, looking like Alice in C.B.G.B.s. If she keeps up at this rate, she’s well on her way to surpassing Cristina Scabbia as the most kick ass female in metal. On a night filled with all of the pompous (yet loveable) clichés of arena rock, In This Moment proved that you don’t need video projections, flash bombs, and 15-foot drum risers to put on a great show; just a stunning vocalist, a dash of [Iron] Maiden-esque riffage, and a channeling of Iggy Pop.

Rob Zombie was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. Although if Ozzy would’ve thought to employ go-go dancers, soft-core porn, and a 10-foot-tall dancing robot, he may have had a fighting chance. Since his time fronting White Zombie and into his solo career Rob has proven to be one of the premiere rock showmen of his generation. He’s a beautifully and unapologetically tarnished protégé of his heroes. He’s Joey Ramone without the conformity, Lux Interior without the sleekness, and Alice Cooper without the script. This was seen in full effect at the Spectrum as Rob, decked out in black denim and leather, stomped across the stage like a badass caveman in search of rock. He even ventured into the audience a few times. With a stage set complete with naked lady statues and mega-sized clips of old horror movies, the spectacle resembled a KISS performance produced by William Castle and directed by Russ Meyer. The only unfortunate aspect of Zombie’s time onstage was his set list, which played like a best of collection, lacking anything that couldn’t be heard on rock radio.

As everyone knows, it’s been nearly a decade since Ozzy Osbourne made the transition from the Prince of Darkness to the Prince of Dimness, but even with his voice all but gone and his current physical state preventing him from navigating the stage in his classic frog hop, any real rocker still gets an incredible kick out of being in the same room as the guy who brought “War Pigs,” to life. Fortunately, whatever Ozzy is now lacking was fairly well masked by the performance. Zakk Wylde, guitar virtuoso and Society Dwelling Motherfucker, highlighted the set with several solos, including an extended 10+-minute shred-a-thon. Ozzy brought out many of his old tricks, including showering the audience with buckets and a fire hose. Between these antics, a stage set consisting of a flam-spewing cross and an almost flawless supergroup of a backing band (including Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin and Blasko, Zombie’s former bassist), it was easy to ignore the fact that Ozzy can’t quite hit those notes that he used to and he’s looking more like a pregnant senior than a rock star on every tour. In the end, Ozzy spent more time attempting to keep the crowd in a steady wave or in syncopated hand-claps than he did singing. His hour-long set was comprised of a handful of tunes from Blizzard of Ozz and No More Tears, a few tracks from his latest release (Black Rain), along with “Bark at the Moon” and “Paranoid.” While there were no rarities or pleasant surprises, even after all these years, chanting “Crazy Train” along with 10,000 other people still has its charm.

In This Moment are dripping with passion and proving to be the best young band of their genre, Rob Zombie is just about the only badass left in mainstream music, and Ozzy is… well, he’s fuckin’ Ozzy. $86.75 may be a bit much to spend on an evening like this, and you’d probably have to lie the following week when you’re at a Cat Power gig and some cute scenester asks you what’s the last concert you went to, but it really is rare that a tour of this size would boast such a solid lineup. — Izzy Cihak