Monday, November 22, 2010

Concert Review: Ozzy Osbourne/ Halford - MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB 11/20/10

photo: David Lipnowski/ Winnipeg Free Press

This was a better Ozzy show than his last show in October, 2007, when he was upstaged by then opener Rob Zombie. After that show, I blogged that I wouldn't see Ozzy again unless I ended up within the first ten rows or unless he released an excellent album. I ended up in the fifteenth row but could have been closer if I didn't buy through the pre-sale. Still, I was curious to see Rob Halford without Judas Priest and I was intrigued by Ozzy's setlist, which promised more classic Ozzy and Sabbath and less new-ish material.

Halford were mostly disappointing, not because of their musicianship, but due to their terribly simple and boring songs, complete with embarrassingly amateurish lyrics. They did play some decent material but overall, the songs just weren't there. Rob Halford sounded fine, well past his peak but still able to perform to an acceptable level. The first five songs that they played just didn't seem like anything anyone would want to cover. Things picked up with the more memorable "Fire and Ice," and "Thunder and Lightning," both from the new album Made of Metal. The fans perked up considerably with the next two songs, the Fleetwood Mac and Joan Baez covers and Priest classics, "The Green Manalishi (with the two-prong Crown) and "Diamonds and Rust." The Priest non-cover tune that they performed was "Jawbreaker," one of the better known tracks from 1984's Defenders of the Faith.

Ozzy sort of surprised me with his longer than normal set. I read some other reviews of the Canadian tour and knew that he played over two hours elsewhere. Ozzy's set began around 8:45 and ended at 11:15, about 2.5 hours, and included several Black Sabbath numbers. At one point, he wanted to talk about a "rumour" but decided not to go there. I think the rumour was that, with the death of Ronnie James Dio, there will be a reunion of the original Black Sabbath, as the Dio-led version, Heaven & Hell, are finished.

On at least three occasions, Ozzy sprayed people in the first several rows with foam from a gun. He couldn't escape getting himself covered, as well, as this resulted in a tech running to the front of the stage to clean off the tele-prompter. Near the end of the show, he threw three buckets of water in the crowd. I wasn't sure if this was just Ozzy being crazy and fun or if he meant to discourage fans from filming the show with their cameras. One of the local newspapers published a photo of the venue's photographer displaying his foam-soaked gear.

I almost had this feeling that Ozzy was playing more Sabbath material than usual to see how it would go over with the fans, many of whom weren't even born when he quit Sabbath in 1979. The Sabbath material was (for the most part) strongly received by the crowd, although some of the songs seemed to earn less applause, like "Into The Void."

He never seems to have the same players in his band each time he tours. This time around, he had keyboardist/ guitarist Adam Wakeman (son of legendary keyboardist Rick Wakeman, of Yes fame) and new lead guitar whiz, Gus G. (Kostas Karamitroudis), from the band Greek power metal band, Firewind. Gus G. proved to be a more than adequate replacement for longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde, and played some of the fastest electric guitar that I've seen.

Towards the end of the show, Ozzy said that they would play one more song, but maybe one more in addition, if the crowd really went crazy or something like that. After playing "Paranoid," the crowd seemed too subdued for the Prince of Darkness, perhaps due to the unexpected length of the show, so they were finished for the night. Besides, Ozzy appeared to move around the stage, in a geriatric manner, although this was most evident when he walked to and from the drum kit where he had water and a tea cup stashed.

It goes without saying that Ozzy is well past the point of no return with regards to his peak as a singer. The strange thing is, he sounded like he sang better this time than he did three years ago. His movements around the stage, which can best be described as "shuffling," combined with his limp aerobic-styled clapping, just makes him seem like a likable old codger who has lost his marbles. A madman, if you will. Around 7,000 people took in the show.


Bark at the Moon
Let Me Hear You Scream
Mr. Crowley
I Don't Know
Fairies Wear Boots
Suicide Solution
Road to Nowhere
War Pigs
Fire in the Sky
Shot in the Dark
Iron Man
Killer of Giants
I Don't Want to Change the World
Crazy Train

Mama I'm Coming Home
Into the Void
Flying High Again
No More Tears

Article first published as Concert Review: Ozzy Osbourne/ Halford -MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB 11/20/10 on Blogcritics.

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