The winner of the musical hype-of-the-year award (just edging out the U2 road extravaganza) was this, the alleged final show of Ozzy Osbourne, which was highlighted by his reunion with Black Sabbath, the band that made much of today’s grunge-metal possible.
In this case, one could believe the hype: Sunday’s encore featured the much-anticipated Black Sabbath reunion (its first since 1985’s Live Aid).
The band, fronted by Osbourne and with seldom-seen original drummer Bill Ward , blasted through a set of songs older than much of the audience members, including “Fairies Wear Boots,””Iron Man” and “Black Sabbath.” The set appeared to rejuvenate Osbourne, though a couple of his old mates didn’t look quite as thrilled.
After Brazilian noise-makers and Roadrunner recording artists Sepultura did their speed metal best to interest the still-arriving crowd (hard to do at 5:30 in the afternoon) the current version of Black Sabbath took the stage.
In place of crybaby regular vocalist Ronnie James Dio (Osbourne’s original replacement, who recently regrouped with the Sabs after nine years away but then refused to get mixed up in all of the Osbourne reunion hubbub), the audience was presented with Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford.
The pairing was an interesting choice. Halford ruined “Children of Tomorrow,” improved “Supernaut” and made “Neon Knights” sound like Priest.
When Osbourne finally trudged out at 8 p.m., he looked like he needed, very badly, to retire. But the man is a living legend and deserves to be treated as such.
So what if he used a teleprompter, or that his stage conversation was limited to his usual soundbites of “I love you all!” and “go (expletive) crazy!” Or that his stage presence is made up of incessant pacing and leap-frog jumps? He’s Ozzy!
The 105-minute set was equal parts Black Sabbath oldies, songs from Osbourne’s current Epic Associated album, “No More Tears,” and early Osbourne material.
“I Don’t Know,””Mr. Crowley” (with fine video shots of Alistair himself) and the hit “Crazy Train” were highlights of the regular set, which included two appearances of an overweight Elvis impersonator on stage–the joke being told around town is that after this tour, Osbourne will end his career playing Las Vegas.
Was this show an odd ending to an odd career? Certainly odd but probably not the end for Osbourne, who still has European dates and a recording session for his next album on his plate.