Winter is the happiest time of the year and who better to bring Merry Mayhem tidings than the bat-biting minister of Satan himself and his mischievous posse of metal cohorts.

Although Ozzy”s winter tour lacks the full day line-up of last summer”s Ozzfest, the shorter winter program features more bang for the buck with new comers Soil (the Insane Clown Posse meets huggybear stylings of Mudvayne), and one of the best and brightest showmen, Rob Zombie. Lest we forget to mention the man of the hour, Ozzy Osbourne, who traversed the Atlantic Ocean, picking his way through two-hour airport traffic and anthrax to bring his rock circus to metal-starved America.

With Soil occupying the opening slot, crooning the appropriate angry thrash anthems, the real fun didn”t begin until singer Kud of Mudvayne took the stage sporting a full fur jumpsuit artistically enhanced with rubber blood and gut entrails for that fresh road kill look. Joining him among the glowing fetuses in a jar (stage props) were Gurrg, sPaG and RyKnow with a similar bizarre visual intensity, emerging in their traditional face paint style of a crazed four-year-old having experimented with their mom”s make up kit.

Although vocals meshed indistinguishably with distorted guitars best describes Mudvayne”s performance, their intensity and stage presence explained their large enthusiastic fan following.

Taking a moment between the incomprehensible growlings and guitar riffs, Kud delivered a few words of advice to the audience. “When you get home today parents, take your kids into a room for 15 minutes, shut the door and give them a hug. Tell them how proud you are of them. If anyone tells you that you can”t be who you are, fuck them. You are the one who has to wear the skin on your skeleton.”

After promising a new album devoid of corporate tampering, the boys left the stage as quickly as they had appeared, leaving the audience hyped for the treats soon to come.

If anyone knows how to make an entrance, it”s Rob Zombie. Putting on arguably the best show in all the biz, the deadlocked cowboy-hatted Mr. Zombie and company brought video screens, scantily clad hotties and a killer ruckus to delight Detroit.

Citing the Motor City as “the best fucking venue” more than a few times, Zombie was displeased, to say the least, when he tried in vein to encourage the female audience members to reveal their bosoms. Not that the lack of flesh could stop the show the entertainment continued with pyrotechnics, porn footage and some sort of stripperish femicops alternating between dancing and spotlighting the crowd.

Remarking that his skull still had some lumps and bangs from his days 12 years ago at Harpo”s in Detroit, Zombie debuted part of his new movie a horror flick with plenty of carnage and plenty of breasts played some new tracks off his new album, mixed in some of the old and overall provided a show most headlining acts could hope to match.

Fear not, although Mr. Zombie can surely upstage anyone from the latest god-awful boy band to our nearest and dearest, Britney Spears, the show”s headliner was Ozzy Ozbourne. Despite senior citizen status, he”s been rocking for the last three decades and isn”t showing any signs of slowing.

Soon the darkened arena was lit up via a big screen TV playing the video for “Lady Marmalade.” Since this was Ozzy Ozbourne”s show and not Carson Daly”s, a quiet wide-eyed confusion ensued until time revealed the blond wigged 1,800 pantie-clad, whorehouse costume concealed the body of a much larger rougher sort Osbourne in drag. Moving past the Wild West, Ozzy inhabited the roles of a few of our foolish American pop culture 15-minute famers portraying everyone including that guy who never does except get high to Miss Cleo. He even makes a limo cameo to tell J-Lo”s “fat ass to get it right. It”s not a bracelet it”s a cock ring.”

Making his physical entrance high above the crowd, Ozzy rode in on his sleigh, making his way from the back of Cobo, “flying” through the falling snow, blasting a pyrotechnic shotgun and muttering what can be understood through his thick English rock jargon as “happy bloody Christmas.”

Reaching destination front stage as the Santa-nailed-to-a-cross backdrop caught flame, Ozzy waved and welcomed his devoted congregation and began what can only be described as a whirlwind of metal. Spending time with Mr. Crowley, riding the crazy train and reminding all that he is not the Antichrist, Ozzy recognized the season as one of giving and sharing, leaving Zach Wilde to do some damage on guitar while Ozbourne presumably took a short respite from the excitement. Playing some wicked extended solo, Wilde moved into the Star Spangled banner that blew KISS” efforts out of the water.

Wrapping up what was undeniably one of the best shows of the year with deafening explosions, fire and flashing messages on the TV screen relating “go fucking crazy” and “show me your tits,” Ozzy went out with a bang, showing that as the leader of the senior citizens brigade he can kick the ass of anyone that wants to bring it.

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