Concert Report Card - Rob Zombie
Filling the slot prior to the Prince of Darkness, Zombie ventured from his usual headlining slot and took the stage at exactly 8:10 pm to a rousing cheer from the packed Madison Square Garden. For the better part of an hour, he delivered a solid performance to the sell-out crowd. The 60-minute set provided a generous warm up, and Zombie was well received from start to finish.
Zombie is an engaging and enthusiastic performer, a surprise given his morbid persona. Though much of his act still centers on the macabre, he is not as weighed down by gratuitous ghoulishness as he was earlier in his career. No longer crafting an image as one of the Devil’s Rejects, Zombie now appears comfortable being a shaggy, gravel-throated singer—albeit one who still resides on the dark side.
Big stage monitors, streaming film footage, two go-go dancers, and some genuinely mesmerizing theatrical effects made the Zombie set equal parts rock ‘n roll concert and demented theater. The video montage ran the gamut from Zombie’s own cinematic snippets to Anime and The Munsters. Zombie’s eye for the visual medium is as important as his sense for the aural one, and he consistently scored high marks for sheer production value.
Communication/Social Skills: B
While not provoking the audience to excessive levels of excitement, Zombie still managed to motivate those before him. Leaving the stage to run though the aisles armed with a hand-held spotlight was a clever ploy and a nice surprise. His voice was strong, the speakers were loud, and the songs flowed without incident.
At his core, Rob Zombie is an entertainer, and he mixes a variety of potent sensory stimuli into an hour of entertainment. Dedicated fans will immerse themselves in his every move, while the uninitiated will find themselves lost in the whirling vortex of sights and sounds. Despite being something of an acquired taste, Zombie’s catalogue is dark and heavy, and his artistic nature compliments the recorded material via elaborate stage production. Bottom line: Zombie provides good bang for the buck.
Ozzy Osbourne - Concert Report Card
A performer of Ozzy’s legendary status should be expected to put on a thunderous headlining performance, irrespective of venue or crowd size. On the other hand, someone of Ozzy’s constitution should be commended for simply showing up in performance-ready condition. Still, a set lasting just north of an hour—including a two-song encore and time for Zakk Wylde’s extended solo—is a considerable disappointment. Whether it’s attributed to his feeling under the weather, or merely to the high mileage on his personal odometer, the Wizard of Oz seemingly hasn’t enough in the tank any longer to perform extended sets on a regular basis.
No matter his age and/or physical condition, Ozzy will always be an overgrown child with ADD. It is evident that he hasn’t lost one whit of passion for leading the revelry, and when he stakes out center stage, the strobes and adulation shine directly upon him. As Ozzy performs, there is a decided halo of genuineness emanating from him—and the crowd responds accordingly.
His hand claps and jumping jacks have lost some precision, but Ozzy will never be accused of mailing it in. The set list was comprised of greatest hits, preceded by an amusing short film in which Ozzy lampooned various pop-culture characters. Essentially an abridged live version of the Prince of Darkness box set, the concert was grounded in fan favorites from all Ozzy eras. With minimal stage theatrics, however, Ozzy’s thumbnail sketch of his vast catalogue was the focal point. And coming on the heels of Zombie’s sensory smorgasbord, the Oz set’s visuals paled in comparison.
Social Skills: A+
There is no metal veteran closer to a musical shaman than Ozzy. With every profanity-laced command, the crowd did their idol’s bidding. Had he requested armed insurrection, concert-goers would have taken to the streets with torches in a matter of seconds. Most notably, during “Suicide Solution”, the Ozman produced a suds hose and generously lathered down the first 15 rows. Crowd response was typically ravenous, and Ozzy appeased the faithful with additional hose action. While there was something very phallic about the suds shot from MSG’s higher vantage points, virtually everyone in the floor fray seemed unfazed by Ozzy’s antics.
When you’re lavished with versions of Ozzy classics, it’s difficult not to harbor unrealistic expectations. “Crazy Train” will always be inexplicably linked to Randy Rhodes and ‘80s-era Ozzy, as will “Bark at the Moon”, and those vintage moments can never be replicated. Long-standing guitarist Zakk Wylde should be charged with felonious assault on his instruments, as he is brutal; and his tenure alongside Ozzy so lengthy, he nearly makes Rhodes’ image fade. (Nearly.) And what Ozzy has lost vocally over time, he makes up for with unadulterated joy at finding himself before adoring fans. Bottom line: Ozzy isn’t close to what he used to be, but who is? He’s still Ozzy, and worth the price of admission, at least once.