Kelly Osbourne proved she’s every bit her father’s daughter at her first full-fledged concert on Tuesday.
Any questions about her authenticity – that recording her album, Shut Up, was simply the easiest way to boost her celebrity – were wiped away soon after she emerged beneath a giant pink neon sign that read “Kelly Osbourne,” visibly moved at the enthusiastic applause. Unlike her previous live performances – at a radio-sponsored festival and a “Tonight Show” gig – on Tuesday the crowd was all hers (the “I love you, Kelly” cries might have given it away), and she grabbed the reins with a veteran’s confidence.
It wasn’t the 18-year-old bratty daughter who stars in the MTV reality series “The Osbournes” that appeared before a packed Irving Plaza. Rather, it was a punky and spunky chick standing firmly where sexy meets snotty, wearing a dandy black jacket and rocking through a brief set with sheer delight. She balanced bonding with the “Girls Rule” set with pacifying the boys with a healthy dose of sex appeal, moving like Pat Benatar, snarling like Joan Jett and hollering like Belinda Carlisle before the Go-Go’s went pop.
Part of the confidence Osbourne exuded could have stemmed from support from her family, which was there in full force: Jack and a fair-haired female companion, matriarchal Sharon kissing more cheeks than Michael Corleone in the “Godfather” trilogy; nanny Melinda and even the camera-shy Aimee. Ozzy, wearing his signature shades and seated at a reserved table marked “Ozzy and Sharon,” didn’t say much and smiled down on his baby girl from the VIP balcony.
The 40-minute set opened with “Disconnected,” which sounds remarkably close to Kim Wilde’s anthem “Kids in America” – not the worst tune Osbourne could co-opt. The single “Shut Up” was met with a sing-along, and spiked with Osbourne yelling “1-2-3-4” in prime punk form just prior to the guitar solo. And during “Too Much of You,” a song she informed the crowd was about masturbation, Osbourne greeted fans down in front and unwrapped and playfully inflated a condom someone had thrown onstage.
Her band – two guitarists, a bassist and drummer – provided the energy off which she fed, grinding out the riffs of “Come Dig Me Out” and “Contradiction” to the point of near exhaustion.
Osbourne seemed to hit that point of fatigue toward the end of the set, when her right arm folded across her midsection as she sang. Where you’d expect her head to bounce assertively to the pounding rhythms, it only nodded in time as she stood mostly stagnant behind her microphone.
However, her energy was restocked soon enough. Having invited five fans onstage as backup singers, Osbourne broke into her revved-up version of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach,” which had everyone in the room bouncing and smiling.
An unnecessary one-song encore that reprised “Shut Up” followed, delivered with considerably less inspiration than when it arose earlier in the set, though it was punctuated by a dog-tired stage dive. It didn’t much matter that most in the crowd scratched their heads over the selection. (Couldn’t she have played another album cut? A new cover perhaps?) Osbourne had already made her point that she can hold her own against most segments of the pop-punk crop and that showmanship and spectacle definitely run in the family.