I mentioned it before. In the Ordinary Man post. As a throw away line about seeing Double O take Wembley by storm. There’s a bit more to it. Wanna hear my Bark At The Moon story?
We had weekend tickets to an indoor festival in January 1991. Wembley Arena. Ozzy would be preceding his No More Tours show to finish off a three day bender of bands. Each day had a theme. Dance, Indie and Rock. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was 12 quid a ticket and a fiver for the train with a young persons railcard. Dr Derek was the man in our little suburb you went to see if you wanted tickets to a show. He could do you a deal. For the whole weekend, 25 quid. This was before online and my parents weren’t wealthy enough to have a credit card to buy them over the phone (I still avoid having one if I can). So you’d save up your money (mine came from setting up the market stalls for the biweekly market and cleaning bottles for recycling in the gin factory after college).
Dr. Derek had never let us down before. He would organise the coach for festivals and could get you good seats if you paid early enough. He even let us pay for Monsters of Rock at a fiver a week one year. Derek was an old roadie who ran his business out of the spare bedroom in his house in town. You’d get to his front door and he’d buzz you in. Heading up the stairs past his family watching TV in the living room to a nerve center of showbiz box office paraphernalia and road maps piled high didn’t seem as weird at the time as it does now.
Wembley was the easiest big London venue for us to get to. We’d already seen so many iconic bands there. We knew the surrounding streets pretty well and the markets that went on in the car park provided us with a bit of local knowledge about which pubs to stop off in before taking the bridge over Wembley Way towards those iconic towers.
It was safe to say we we’re utterly uninterested in most of the bands on Friday night. In hindsight seeing 808 State, The Farm, James and Happy Mondays one one stage in one night would be an incredible experience.
At the time it was much more interesting to be chatting with Vicky, Sharon and their mates in the pub round the corner and trying to make plans to see them tomorrow night when The Cure were headlining. Of course, like this kind of line up for this kind of price, we never saw them again.
So to Sunday. There would be no such dicking about with that itinerary. Wolfsbane were the only band on the bill I hadn’t seen live already yet… (They were bloody great. Paint The Town Red and I Like It Hot especially) Except for the headliner. Wolfsbane were so much fun we all left the show with Wolfsbane baseball caps. I had mine for years. We were excited to be seeing our mates Thunder do so well (their first show was in Southend, we’d all been fans from day one). We followed The Quireboys around when Mayfair and There She Goes Again came out (I still have signed seven inches from before A Little Bit Of What You Fancy was released) and we were paid up copy cats in the dress sense. Little Angels seemed to support everyone so we’d seen them loads too. Their latest album was being trailed by a sizzling new single out in a couple of weeks after the show. They played it. We went mental.
It was advertised that David Coverdale would be on the bill too. He’d done a charity thing with Thunder recently so we wondered if it’d be part of their set. If memory serves he was a no show.
Ozzy though. That was the first, second and third thing out of everybody’s mouths. We were finally going to see Ozzy Osbourne live. With Zakk Wylde on guitar and Randy Castillo on drums. Would he play some Sabbath? Of course he would. But which songs? Will he preview anything from the new album? Will he throw stuff into the crowd? What song will they open with? What will the stage look like? Capes? Blood capsules? How great is this going to be? Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!
Over the weekend the signs were worrying that the sets were all the same length. Everyone got the same 30 minute slot. 45 for the headliner (except The Cure, they played a whole show and fuck anyone who didn’t like it). This wasn’t a festival! This was a showcase. The whole thing was to be on TV and radio so there is footage of it out there on grainy taped off the TV VHS. To quote Fizz ‘What do you want for 12 quid?”
The lights went down for Ozzy and the place was pandemonium. To the strains of a hammy choral horror soundtrack two crucified figures in pentagrams flanked the stage. Not a note of metal had been played and this was already brilliant.
Zakk Wilde took Jake E Lee’s (arguably) most famous riff and forced his axe down it’s throat. Wembley roared and Benny, Fizz, Wilde, Hound and I bounced up and down arm in arm.
“Screams break the silence, waking from the dead of night!”
Ozzy Prince Of Darkness Osbourne was in the room. This was fantastic. The rest of the set was made up of tracks from my favourite heavy metal album of the 80’s Blizzard Of Ozz and two Black Sabbath covers (War Pigs an Paranoid of course) I loved every single moment of it. We all did.
From that day on Bark At The Moon was my new favourite Ozzy Osbourne song. Until that was, No More Tears came out in September anyway.
Now, I need to add a post script here. Ozzy’s career is dogged with tales of legal battles. Double crosses and business gone bad. There is in existence a fantastically cheesy promo video for this song. It’s a thing of rare beauty. Jake E. Lee plays surrounded by billowing dry ice in a frilly shirt an frillier hair. There’s horse drawn coaches racing through the night and a low budget early MTV version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde played out right before your very eyes.
I wish I could show it to you. But it’s currently in some sort of litigation or contractual dog leash that means anyone who posts it online gets a cease and desist.
And we can’t have that.
So have the cover of the video by Shadows Fall instead. Who covers a video? These heroes that’s who!