Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No Rest for the Wicked

January 13, 1989
Ozzy Osbourne/Anthrax
McNichols Arena – Denver, Colorado

A souped-up 1967 metallic blue Chevy Chevelle with broad white stripes up the hood was our means and 5 concert tickets were our ways to a night that I’ll never forget.

Two guys sat in front and two in back, oh, and let’s not forget about me - I was between the two in the back, of course. Even though it was January, which meant there was snow on the ground, we still flew down the highway with the windows down and the stereo up on our way to spend an evening with Ozzy.

The wind whipped through and blew my hair all over, popping not only me in the eyes, but also anyone near me. Yeah, some of it burned on the tips of cigarettes, but I didn’t care; because I knew my head would be shaking in all directions before the night was over and nobody would notice a thing.

It was a perfectly cold and crisp night. Perfect because I was able to wear my new black, leather make-me-think-I'm-a-bad-ass trench coat, not to just any concert, but one that I've waited to go to all of my life. I was about to see in person the singer from Black Sabbath: John Osbourne, or more commonly, Ozzy.

I’d listened to Black Sabbath since I was little, courtesy of my oldest brother who used to play their albums repeatedly. I could play the melody, by ear, of Iron Man on a cheap little organ at the age of 4 or 5.

Unfortunately, here I sit without fame, fortune, or anything to show for it but on that night in the cool, mountain air, none of that mattered. I was 22 and ready to rock with a legend.

McNichols Arena was a closed-in facility situated right next to the Mile High Stadium, enclosed by a chain link fence. We had to park far away from the entrance and were too lazy to walk all the way around to the front, so we opted for the quickest way from point A to point B: climb the fence.

I remember thinking how cool I must’ve looked because once I climbed to the top and let go for the leap off onto the other side, my coat flew behind me dramatically as though I were a vampire swooping down for the kill.

Naturally, my coolness level soon dropped more quickly than the temperature as soon as I hit ground and slid down the slope as though I were Clark Griswald in a Christmas Vacation.

Of course, they all laughed at me but then lent me a hand and chalked it up to too much Wild Turkey. Even though we were all in the Air Force at the time, nothing could change the fact that I was still the rock-n-roll rebel.

We managed to make it inside and found our designated seats, which at that point were a lot warmer than my own, let me tell you. Damned snow! The lights eventually went down, but I can’t even tell you how much I couldn’t wait for Anthrax to be finished.

All I remember of them was the singer who ran around in an Indian outfit screaming something about being the man. Whatever - shut up and bring on Ozzy!

And then the time came. They opened with "Over the Mountain," and that’s exactly where they sent me. The whole entire place went crazy.

Although, I wasn’t fortunate enough to see Randy, Zakk was a damned good guitar player and I vividly recall his hair just flying back and forth like a raging forest fire.

They played all of my favorites, which wasn’t too hard since I knew every song on their list. It was one of the very few concerts that I knew every damned word to each song. And proceeded to sing every one at the top of my lungs as though I was the only one in the place.

Aside from the classics, the most standout song I remember most was when they played “Fire in the Sky,” there wasn’t a soul who didn’t have their Bic flickering.

As much as that little tradition may seem cheesy to some, as now they use their cell phones or whatever, but I just think it’s so cool to see all of those little lights twinkling in the darkness and connecting everyone on so many levels.

Ozzy did not disappoint. I don’t care what anyone says about that man. He had the entire place in the palm of his hands immediately.

Bark at the Moon had the entire arena howling in unison. Don’t even mention Mr. Crowley. As soon as the first note of that organ started up, chills ran up my spine and didn’t come down until days later.

There was no doubt in my mind, as people swayed back and forth, that everyone's hearts were completely into that moment and totally surrended to his greatness.

I was spellbound in what turned out to be a truly magical performance. Do they even make them like that anymore?

He really is The Wizard, isn't he?


Blogger Metal Mark said...

I never saw Ozzy. He was like a god in the 80's though and up until the early 90's. Now he's a babbling old man who hasn't done a good album in 15 years and he is a bit of a joke. His wife certainly helped shape who he was, but now she adds to the joke by how she acts and the whole Ozzfest thing. I saw Anthax play in the spring of 1989 on the Headbanger's Ball tour and they were great.

4:25 AM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Well, you missed a good one, for sure, Mark. I know, I hate how he is now and to some people that's the only definition they have of him, which really pisses me off.

I didn't know much about/wasn't into Anthrax and I was all about Ozzy so I didn't even give them a fair listen - I'm sure they were good, just didn't leave a big impression on me.

4:46 AM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger White Forest said...


4:29 PM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger Death Warmed Over said...

My favorite Ozzy line: "People accused me of conjuring the devil. Its all I can do to conjure myself out of bed in the morning."

8:58 PM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger mindy said...

when i was like 12 or so.. i had a crush on him. (strange i know, because he's not at all attractive)
i remember telling the little girl i babysat for that i loved ozzy.. and she started crying.

7:06 AM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

I've always liked the song Paranoid.
"Finished with my woman because she couldn't help me with my mind." It's hard to beat that kind of poetry. Ozzy is deep.

2:05 PM, September 29, 2006  
Blogger Ben said...

I'm sorry its took me so long to respond OMW, but I wanted to come back and read your post in full as it was a long one. I hate it when people just come on and say "great post" and you know they haven't read it.


What a vivid memory of the concert you painted ! I like it how you mentioned how cold it was outside, but Ozzy's performance and the whole atmosphere in the arena put fire in your soul. That's what I love about great live music. It's almost like a spiritual feeling you get inside. Of the 50 or so concerts I see every year this only happens 3 or 4 times, but when it does it leaves me high for weeks after.

5:11 AM, September 30, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

White Forest: Huh?

DWO: Funny - but unfortunately, I know the feeling.

Mindy: That's hilarious! Poor girl.

Enemy: he's a master. :)

Ben: I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. When I began this blogging venture, I didn't figure anyone would really want to read my stuff, so it became more of a thing for me, outlet, journal, whatever - -so when people like you actually read it that's a billion bonus points right there. Thank you!

And yes, great concerts are spiritual and especially great when the hair on your head doesn't stop crawling for days!

12:42 PM, September 30, 2006  
Blogger Crashtest Comic said...

Ozzy rocks!

I've got tickest to see TOOL next week.

Can't wait--great post!

7:04 AM, October 01, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

crashtest - cool, hope you have a great time! thanks for stopping by.

7:58 AM, October 02, 2006  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Um...what's wrong with Ozzy NOW?

8:28 AM, October 02, 2006  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

now that's a really good concert memory, eh? and I can attest to that Anthrax gig w/ was really damn good. I know Helloween opened, but forgot who else...glory days...

9:00 PM, October 03, 2006  

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