During Mudvayne's set at Ozzfest on Saturday, lead singer Chad Grey exclaimed that Ozzfest was Christmas for his band and metal heads everywhere. Unfortunately, in the case of Iron Maiden, Scrooge was manning this ship.
Undoubtedly, Iron Maiden was the highlight of the entire event at Glen Helen Pavilion in Devore and one of the few - and I mean few - bands on the bill that has a singer. Bruce Dickinson, who along with Ronny James Dio, Rob Halford of Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne, is among the few frontmen in metal who can keep an audience on its feet for the entire set. And with an incredible band that includes Steve Harris (bass), Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar) and Nicko McBrain (drums), Maiden is the consummate metal act.
Unfortunately for Maiden, and its fans, things were not rosy in metal land. During the day, each band that performed was introduced by an emcee. However, Iron Maiden was the only band that did not have an intro. Instead, the only thing that could be heard over the P.A. system before the band came on was a loud, obnoxious voice screaming 'Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy.'
And when the band members opened up the set with 'Murders in the Rue Morgue,' they were pelted with eggs, bottle caps and ice that came from one specific area of the pit. And from there, the evening got worse.
In the next song, 'Trooper,' Dickinson came onstage with the British flag, as he has always done when the group performs this number. But near the end of the song, someone walked out from stage left and started to wave an American flag. On his back was written 'Don't (mess) with Ozzy.' After being hustled off stage, the man appeared again with the flag, waving it again near the front of the stage. Besides this incident, there were power outages, in which the P.A. system was switched off in key moments of three of the band's songs. In addition, while Dickinson was speaking to the audience at the end of the band's encore, that same voice came on the P.A. yelling for Ozzy. But Maiden fans drowned it with chants of 'Maiden.'
Frustrating? Yes. And it was apparent in Dickinson and the band's demeanor. At one point, Dickinson exclaimed, 'You'll never hear Maiden on U.S. radio, MTV and certainly never see them in a reality show.'
Nevertheless, Iron Maiden kept its cool the best it could, and delivered an outstanding 60-minute set, which apparently the Ozzfest organizers had told the band to keep to 55 minutes. Despite all these distractions and problems, what stuck out the most was Sharon Osbourne's appearance on stage after Maiden finished its set.
One might have thought Osbourne was going to apologize to Iron Maiden and do some damage control, but instead, the moment took on some heavy metal drama. She told the audience that Ozzfest organizers 'absolutely loved Iron Maiden and their crew and they are all wonderful, but their singer, Bruce Dickinson was a (jerk) and had disrespected Ozzfest since they began their stint with the tour.'
At this, many in the audience started to boo Sharon Osbourne. While the shenanigans were very weird, one has to wonder how anybody could have sneaked in the approximately two dozen eggs that were hurled at the band. And how someone can gain access to the back stage is anybody's guess.
After the incident, tour officials would not comment on the events, or on whether there was any bad blood between the two camps. Saturday's performance was Iron Maiden's last gig on Ozzfest. From this point on, Velvet Revolver will finish the last seven stops of the tour.
As for the rest of the day's events, Black Sabbath did perform. And Ozzy Osbourne managed to get through the set. Interestingly, the set was pretty much a mirror copy of last year's set. The band performed favorites such as 'N.I.B.,' 'After Forever,' 'Iron Man,' 'War Pigs' and 'Paranoid,' but it was obvious that the evening went sour after the Maiden fiasco.
Ozzy Osbourne recently announced that he will be cutting back his performances at future Ozzfest shows, and Saturday's performance showed that it's the right move. While it was great to see him with his old mates, he's like the old racehorse that needs to be put out to pasture. It's OK - Ozzfest lives on, and it's clearly a part of the American landscape.
The second stage saw some notable performances, particularly by Bury Your Dead, As I Lay Dying and Rob Zombie, who closed the second stage. Zombie, who hadn't performed in three years before joining Ozzfest, was clearly getting more comfortable on stage and gave a good performance.
On a side note, if the new sound of metal - the pounding, the growling, the screaming, the I'm-so-tired-of-living-and-I-hate-everyone stance - is what the kids want, so be it. But can we please get a little identity here? Does every band have to sound the same? And let's face it, the Norwegians have been doing this since the late '80s, which is why bands like As I Lay Dying and Bury Your Dead offer an alternative.
On the main stage, Black Label Society, which is actually Zakk Wylde's project, was once again noteworthy with its distinct Southern metal sound mixed with biker attitude. Why this band doesn't make it to the big time is beyond me.
Mudvayne and Slipknot, which only performed this one date on Ozzfest, were entertaining. With Slipknot, whose band members all wear masks or heavy makeup, the brief set was entertaining, but the music forgettable, and after 10 minutes, the antics got old.