Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford

November 14, 2010, Vancouver, B.C.

Any opportunity to pimp out her husband as an accordion monkey to pay off her and her spawn’s platinum cards is a good opportunity to Sharon Osbourne. Single-handedly, she has perilously managed her famously addled husband’s career to the brink of cartoon caricature.

Sham-wow takes on a new meaning under her tutelage.

Ozzy, as a result, has become to metal what George Foreman is to boxing: an aged, grinning shill maven who gave up a credible, verging on nebulous persona to now live with fading respect for his legacy, all to ensure a hefty paycheck for his missus.

Sharon’s approach seems to have backfired, judging from the Vancouver show of the Ozzman’s latest tour. Sales were so dismal that even with media papering (free tickets), the balcony was closed and its ticketholders upgraded to fill the lower bowl in an attempt to fluff the audience.

This dose of pathos accompanied me to the gig.

Ozzy, to his credit, missed the corporate memo that he only had to go through the motions, given the reduced crowd and assured payday. He played over 2 hours, with the second half being a Sabbathapalooza,,or more cynically, a warm up for the rumored Sabs reunion

Ozzy's zeal was rife, and continually he coached ala Richard Simmons, complete with semi-jumping jacks, to encourage more participation, noise, and mayhem. Similarly, his showmanship was top notch; he broke a sweat and wanted his enthusiasm to be infectious, even if his foam gun gimmick (see pic below) already is too much of a crutch.

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"I should use this to wash me car!"

Sadly, the Ozzman's fervor was to his detriment, because even though it was only the second gig of a long tour, his voice is already faltering. Many of the Black Sabbath “covers” paled, most notably “Fairies Wear Boots” and even “Iron Man,” which lost its iconic impact in the off-key sludge.

While the band had glimmers of rich potential, especially Gus G, Zakk Wylde's guitar replacement, there were obvious stumbles demonstrating that the band were still learning to gel as a touring unit, although it was refreshing not to watch a grown man spit all over himself, as Zakk is wont to do.On several occasions, their rawness proved to be double-edged as “N.I.B.,” “War Pigs,” and “Into the Void” were spellbinding as were Ozzy solo tracks “Bark at the Moon,” the opener, along with the churning “No More Tears,” and new one “Let Me Hear You Scream.” It was also on these occasions that Ozzy kept pace and tune, reminding us what a force he once was before the reality show, television commercials, and advice column all diluted his good name with bad management.

Who would have thought that snorting ants showed better judgement?!?

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford warmed up with his solo 5 piece, simply called Halford. Unlike Ozzy’s, his voice was stronger than ever as he worked through tracks from the bands’ new cd Made of Metal, Fight (Halford’s previous solo project) and of course some Priest “covers," including “Jawbreaker,” Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi” and Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust.”

While Halford’s 45 minutes was more proletariat than bombastic, it showcased how to age gracefully on one’s own terms, without "help" from Sharon.

--Chris Rose

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