Saturday, December 4, 2010

OZZY OSBOURNE 12-3-2010 : HAPPY 62ND OZZY!

Last night I went to see Ozzy Osbourne with Rob Halford at New Jersey’s Izod Center, hosted by SIRIUS XM Liquid Metal dude Jose Mangin (a friend of mine, I work there also). It was a special occasion – other than the fact that two of the most timeless icons of heavy metal were performing, it was also Ozzy’s 62nd birthday. What a great time.

The last concert I went to was Bob Dylan at Terminal 5, and in some weird way, last night’s show reminded me of that one. Here’s why. Bob Dylan, who was never a great singer in the classic sense of the word, has a voice that takes some getting used to. Some would say it hasn’t aged well. The Wall Street Journal, a respected publication in the world of the arts, suggested that Bob’s recent shows haven’t been very good (although their recent Bob article ends with someone blown away by the same Terminal 5 shows that I went to). Do I think Bob’s singing voice sounds great? No. But it’s what he sounds like at 69. The reason his shows are great, other than his ridiculous catalog of timeless songs, is that he happens to have a band that loves that catalog and does it justice.

Back to Ozzy. Ozzy also has never been a great singer in the traditional sense, and really, who cares. I don’t want to hear some opera trained metal show-offy singer doing those classic Black Sabbath songs (I hated hearing most of the post-Ozzy Sabbath singers doing his songs, no disrespect), or the songs from Blizzard Of Oz or Diary Of A Madman. Ozzy is the perfect singer for those songs, and for my money, they are some of the greatest songs of all time. As I said on TV – on Bio’s Black Sabbath documentary – Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is as good a protest song as anything Dylan did (credit goes to Geezer Butler, who wrote the lyrics). Another way Ozzy reminds me of Dylan is that, OK, his voice isn’t as strong as it used to be. But back off, he just turned 62! I appreciate and respect the fact that he’s singing live, not using autotune, etc. My seats last night were so good, I was watching carefully to see if anything wasn’t kosher. Ozzy didn’t hit everything perfectly, but he had a lot of heart, that’s what *I* care about. And he wasn’t faking it.

The last way I’ll compare Ozzy’s show to Bob’s is the backing band. Like I said, Dylan’s band loves his songs and they kind of carry the show. Dylan mostly stands behind his electric piano for most of the night. Ozzy does more heavy lifting, so to speak, but his band reveres him, and the material, just the way Dylan’s band does with Bob’s songs. Gus G. is a great guitarist, albeit not totally my style: he is totally a lightning fretboard pointy guitar guy. I’m glad he used a Les Paul for the Sabbath songs! I have to give it to him, he was great. Blasko (formerly of Rob Zombie’s band) has been with Ozzy the longest, and he is a badass bass player. The “new guy” is drummer Tommy Clufetos, who was an absolute demon on the drums. He also used to play with Zombie, as well as Alice Cooper. He looks like a young Bill Ward and is just a sick player. The band is rounded out by Adam Wakeman (son of YesRick Wakeman, and he also plays in Yes these days) on keyboards and guitar. The band love Ozzy, and they love his songs and bring real power to the performances.

The performances were great. I haven’t seen a solo Ozzy performance in years, I think it was Ozzfest 2000 (featuring another great band: Zakk Wylde, a pre-Metallica Rob Trujilio and Faith No More’s Mike Bordin), but he was way more intense last night. I think he is healthier than he has been in a long time. He opened with one of my favorites, “Bark At The Moon,” and the crowd was going crazy from the first few notes. He only played one song from the new album, Scream, the title track. I actually would have loved to have heard “Let It Die,” which opens the album, and maybe another song also. I was surprised that he skipped the new album, especially since it wasn’t an all “greatest hits” type set: he played some unexpected things, like “Fire In The Sky” and “Killer Of Giants” (both of which I could have done without – I also wish he played some more stuff from Diary Of A Madman), I would have loved to hear something from Black Rain and I also really dig “Gets Me Through,” which is one of my favorite Ozzy tracks. Of course for me, the highlights were the Sabbath songs, and I’m always interested to hear how Ozzy’s band interprets them. Since Gus G. put down the pointy guitar for the Sab tunes, I was cool with it – plus, they did some stuff I was surprised to hear: “N.I.B.,” “Fairies Wear Boots” and “Into The Void.” As well as “War Pigs” and “Iron Man.” It was a great show.

I have to mention Rob Halford, who opened with his band Halford. Last time I saw Halford, it was kind of Rob’s return to classic metal after the more modern metal sound of Fight and the techno-y sound of Two. Halford were playing his classic Judas Priest songs. But since Priest is now back together, Rob avoided any original Priest songs – sticking with Halford material, plus two songs that Priest have covered: Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust” and the original Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi.” It was a great performance, and Rob’s voice hasn’t lost any of its range or power. By the way, I know I sometimes criticize operatic metal singers, but Rob is a different deal. Yes, he probably could sing for the opera if he wanted to, but he sounds so scary when he sings, it appeals to me, where many other technically proficient metal singers don’t. He was the perfect opener for Ozzy, I had a blast.

5 comments:

Speedoman said...

Glad to hear Ozzy is still playing hard after all these years. The last time I saw him at Ozzfest '02 he looked frail and sickly.

Minority said...

thanks for reading and commenting Speedoman. I saw Ozzy at Ozzfest a few years back too, and I sort of stopped going after that. but I was lucky enough to get free tickets from a friend for this show - and I was glad I went, he was in really great form, and everyone else who I know who was there said the same thing. It seems like he's really taking care of himself these days.

zazafromjohor said...

HI,
Great review.. would you have other pix to share with me.... I am a big ozzy fan from UK...

zazafromjohor said...

I meant pix from th east rutherford show ...

Minority said...

Hi - no, that was pretty much the only good one we got.