Ozzy Osbourne shows Vancouver he’s “still fucking crazy”

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 15, 2010

The most entertaining part of Sunday night’s (November 14) Ozzy Osbourne concert may well have occurred before the 61-year-old metal legend actually hit the stage. In the lead-up to his appearance a clip was shown in which Osbourne’s mischievous countenance was comically transposed onto the faces of various characters from movies and TV. So we had the Ozzman showing up in an episode of Jersey Shore to swear at and upset that reality show’s main skank, Snooki, before turning up in a forest scene from Twilight to tell Bella: “Vampires are pussies. I’m the Prince of fucking Darkness!”

The clip also showed Ozzy’s self-deprecating humour by placing him in scenes from The HangoverIron Man 2, and the Lady Gaga video for “Telephone”. It’s just kind of a shame that the joke had to carry over to his actual performance, because Osbourne’s singing is really getting to the point where it’s not even funny anymore.

“Let the madness begin!” hollered Ozzy as his band ripped into “Bark at the Moon”, one of the best songs of his post-Black Sabbath solo career. It was clear from the get-go that his current band—lead guitarist Gus G., bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson, drummer Tommy Clufetos, and keyboardist-guitarist Adam Wakeman—is a force to be reckoned with, but as the night wore on it got harder and harder for them to mask the increasing weakness of Ozzy’s vocals.

For his part Ozzy would constantly exhort the audience to go crazy, as if nothing mattered but going crazier and crazier. “I’m still fucking crazy!” he bellowed. “You’re not fucking wild enough yet!” Then he’d attempt to incite the insanity by hosing down the floor crowd with foam, which actually seemed to do the trick.

But what worked best to make Ozzy’s hard-core followers go crazy like he wanted was to play a Black Sabbath tune, whether a classic Sab track like “Iron Man” or a lesser-known one like “Fairies Wear Boots”. It’s pretty obvious that his best career move at this juncture—now that Ronnie James Dio has passed on—would be to regroup with the original Sabbath members and try to recapture some of that ’70s magic. He’d need to get his singing up to snuff, though.

Opening act Halford fared much better as far as vocals were concerned, as lead screamer Rob Halford—best known as the frontman for Judas Priest—can still bring the throat noise at the age of 59. His quintet focused on tunes from its new album Made of Metal, but it was the Priest material that got the biggest response. After a performance of “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)”, a track off Judas Priest’s live Unleashed in the East album of ’79, a guy behind me declared, “That’s a fucking good song!” I’m not sure if he knew it was originally recorded by the British blues band Fleetwood Mac 40 years ago.

The other cover that went over big during Halford’s 50-minute set was “Diamonds & Rust”, the Joan Baez tune that Judas Priest redid on its Sin After Sin album of ’77. Four years earlier Nazareth had started the short-lived trend of turning female-sung folk songs into hard-rock hits with Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight”. Maybe Halford—or better yet, Ozzy—should try and kick-start a revival of the trend. I for one would love to hear the Prince of fucking Darkness forge a metal anthem out of Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”.

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