Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ozzy (How I learned to love tinnitus)

January 22nd, 1988 I saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert.  Anthrax was the opening act, now Anthrax was certainly a good band, but I had not particular affinity for the band and had not purchased any records or cassettes so I could listen to their music at will.  Napster would not be around for another ten years or so and if you wanted to pirate music you had to know someone with a record or cassette that was willing to let you put some wear on their media to produce a copy.

That being said I was looking forward to seeing Anthrax because word on the street was they put on a Hell of a live show.  My best friend and I were obsessed with Black Sabbath (Band not movie) and we showed up several hours before the doors were to open.  We were both wearing unlined Levi jackets and it was cold, but we were planning ahead because it was going to be hot once everyone started mashing together.

This concert was held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City and was a couple of years before the deaths at the AC\DC concert so the whole floor was GA.

Well there was a lot of crap that happened that we are going to do a verbal montage for, lots of hairspray, many bangs were close to God, many shirts with sleeves and sides cut out, men only,  the women wore mid riff shirts often adorned with fringe of their own making, there were weapons, booze, and bullets (we used to put 22 bullets in the Levi tag on our Levi jackets, I am not sure why this was cool but trust me it was), the wealthy among us groundlings wore leather, tight leather, the kind of leather that was so tight that when it was being removed the person would have a paste made of sweat and baby powder (not sexy) but it looked amazing why it was on, power tripping security guards pushing us around (picture minority women not angry young men who could not get on the police force, I am not sure why this was but it was), everyone smelled like cigarettes and there were some pre-gamers that ended up adding the aroma of vomit to the arena.  Montage over (scene).

Then, like some lyrics from a Pink Floyd song they sent along a surrogate band for Anthrax, after all these years I cannot remember why but I think Scott Ian was sick or injured or something along those lines, but the point is we were all shocked to see Kip Winger and his band Winger come out on stage.  Winger... Instead of Anthrax....

I have been to quite a few concerts and shows and this is the only one I have personally witnessed a crowd, not all of the crowd, but enough of the crowd you could hear it in the stadium, boo.

As time went on and Winger continued to perform, the crowd increasingly gave Winger the bird.

It was bad and worse than bad they were loud and bad.  They left the stage and an intermission began as they prepared for Ozzy.  My ears were ringing and it seemed as though dulcet tones of Kip Winger kept dancing around my skull much like evil sugar plumb fairies left over from a bad Christmas party.  There was an unhappy malaise had settled over the crowd and the setup for Ozzy was taking a long time which left us alone with our tinnitus.

Then Ozzy took the stage and the world became electric.  It was the No Rest For The Wicked tour, but Ozzy did not disappoint, Black Sabbath was well represented.  The beginning notes of Iron Man began to play and the whole arena began to shake their fists to the beat, it was a wild sea of people but a unity of arms marching to the beat of Iron Man.  A was a fat young man and I had taken off my Levi jacket because of the heat and during that song you could see the bass waves traveling through my arm.  At the time it was the closest I had been to religious ecstasy.At the end of the show he came on to tell us how sick, he was but he hoped we enjoyed the show (I had not noticed he was ill) and then he played his last song.

At this point many people began to filter out of the arena, but we knew the show was not over, Ozzy ends every show with the song Paranoid and he had not done any encores yet.  I am not sure why everyone left, but with him being sick and half the crowd having left, he came on and gave us Paranoid and it was the end of a fine show.

As my friend I walked home from the show we were unwittingly shouting at each other because we had become slightly deaf from the volume of the music and that was okay and the evening that had started in the depths with Winger had been redeemed by Ozzy.

The moral to this story is perseverance and patience and Ozzy always puts on a good show even when he is sick.  Every time I hear the ringing in my ears, I think of Iron Man and leather.