Ozzy Osbourne Toyota Center January 18, 2011
See pics from last night's show, featuring Ozzy and opener Slash, in our slideshow.
For metal fans like Aftermath, Ozzy Osbourne's now 42-year-long career represents a platinum standard of evil cool. You start with Black Sabbath, work your way through the band's first four indisputable albums - made in the tiny two-year period between 1970-72 - and swear your undying allegiance to all things dark forever.
You stick around for the lesser-known, but no less gratifying, albums and find your own secret gems to share. It's the first four that will always signify the roots of metal for us born with our hands curled into devil horns.
Ozzy's solo work is the sound of a man thumbing his nose at the detractors who were standing around saying he couldn't survive all alone without the Sabbath seal, but he ended up proving them wrong, taking the attitude of his former band and ratcheting up the fun of it all while still being able to shock and offend along the way.
Enter dead doves, The Alamo, ants, jails, feces, urine, a tanker truck of booze, a DEA footlocker full of drugs, an MTV reality show, the word "fuck," and one angry wife glaring in the corner and you find yourself a staggering rock legend shooting foam at the first 20 rows of a full arena, screaming that you are Iron Man.
Ozzy's set Tuesday night at the Toyota Center delivered everything you would have wanted from an Ozzy show. The hits, the jams, the cursing, the stammering, the who-the-fuck-cares attitude, and a whole mess of nostalgia. He shuffles and dodders a little bit more, but that howl is ferocious as ever.
We saw people who may have seen the band at the old Sam Houston Coliseum in the '70s holding the hand of a grandkid who was probably an infant when the Prince of Fucking Darkness was trying to program his TV on The Osbournes. Above all the shows we have covered, metal shows bridge the generations within families the most. You are metal, you teach your kid metal, they raise metal babies, and you are a metal family.
A quick parody video is a customary on Ozzy solo jaunts, and this one featured Osbourne as a Na'vi from Avatar, a Jersey Shore guido, a Hangover plot twist, Beyonce from Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video, Edward from Twilight, and finally Tony Stark's Iron Man. He made a good guido, we must say.
"Bark At The Moon" wasn't slam-bang opener that it could have been; the riff is great, but it's not a set opener. The new "Let Me Hear You Scream" from last year's appropriately named Scream got things flowing in the No. 2 slot, though.
New guitarist Gus G isn't Zakk Wylde, who was almost as much a draw as the Ozzman himself towards the end of their collab, but he does signal new ideas and blood in the Ozzy camp. Save Rob "Blasko" Nicholson on bass, this is an all-new backing band. Gus G, keyboardist Adam Wakeman (son of Rick), and brutalizing drummer Tommy Clufetos are all freshmen. They are playing Ozzy's catalogue harder and faster than you remember, keeping Ozzy on his toes.
The thing about Ozzy's live show is that he very much feeds off the band for assurance. He's only as good as his backers at this point, and they were on their game Tuesday. He handles crowd control and stamping the show with his signature.
The first Sabbath cut, five songs in, would be "Fairies Wear Boots," the closer on Paranoid, making it clear we weren't going to be in for the novice's delight of a set list. "Road To Nowhere" led into "War Pigs," mixing the years together. We went back to poodle-cut-era '80s Ozz for "Shot In The Dark," from the overlooked The Ultimate Sin album.
Every few songs, Ozzy would dunk his head in a bucket of water next to the drummer to cool off, or wash off the foamy substance he was jetting onto the floor dwellers at decent clips. We saw the mechanism itself next to the stage before the show, hulking in wait for its dark master.
"Rat Salad" gave Ozzy a breather so his band could solo for the crowd. Gus G went first, wailing into the either. The Greek guitarist has a more power-metal sound than we are used to from a Ozzy sideman. Drummer Clufetos let forth a blistering drum- and gong-assisted solo that defied explanation. The bearded and tattooed warhorse previously worked behind Ted Nugent, Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper.
A sludgy (in a good way) version of Sabbath's "Iron Man" welcomed Ozzy back to the stage. Next he pulled out the coked-up "Flying High Again" by surprise. The Diary of a Madman cut was listed on the blog we wrote earlier Tuesday about songs we were wishing to hear last night but weren't making recent set lists. Maybe Ozzy is a Rocks Off fan? We hope so.
There was no "true" encore, with Ozzy standing out front while the youngsters dried off for two minutes backstage. "Crazy Train" echoed through the arena, with the "ay ay ay ay" opening drawing the biggest yelps. We slowed down with "Mama I'm Coming Home," with the seats a sea of cell phones held aloft in place of cigarette lighters. Or maybe they were all calling their own mamas. Our mom is more of an Eagles fan, sadly.
We ended where we began, in September 1970 with "Paranoid," and one out of three fans doing some form of air guitar. In the spry band's hands, the song is as menacing as it ever was. We heard the blues in that proto-metal joint last night for the first time ever, which is a testament to a great song. Break it down; it's a hell-ride of love and loss. It's over 40 years old, and the baby is still showing us new glimmers.
So is Ozzy.
Personal Bias: Most everything we love and hold dear is at least partially in debt to Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. We're sure even George Strait and Lady Gaga have Sabbath records somewhere.
The Crowd: Fans from most every big Ozzy period. From early Sabbath, late Sabbath, solo debuts, '80s pop-slither, '90s reclamation, and the metallic elder-statesmen today. Overheard in the Crowd: "I guess we won't hear any Mob Rules stuff, huh?" No, that wasn't Ozzy.
Best Show Tweet: From @grahamjoey: "Dear 100+ people recording video of every song from your crap digital camera- are you collaborating on a documentary? I want to see it! #ozzy"
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Bark At the Moon Let Me Hear You Scream Mr. Crowley I Don't Know Fairies Wear Boots Road To Nowhere War Pigs Fire In the Sky Suicide Solution Shot In the Dark Rat Salad (Solos) Iron Man Flying High Again I Don't Want To Change the World Into the Void Crazy Train Mama I'm Coming Home Paranoid