Live review: Ozzy Osbourne and Slash at the Gibson Amphitheatre
There’s something deeply admirable about the fact that when Ozzy Osbourne is after his signature drowned-rat look, he goes and finds a bucket filled with water and hoists it over his head. The 62-year-old heavy-metal pioneer doused himself at least a half a dozen times Tuesday night at the Gibson Amphitheatre, never mind the chilly weather or the recent illness that caused him to cancel a concert in Reno on Sunday. Ambling back onstage for his encore, he even appeared to be wearing the same soggy outfit he’d had on for the previous 90 minutes: sparkly crucifix-emblazoned top over black yoga-style pants.
Well into his fifth decade as an entertainer, Osbourne can do such a low-spectacle show because the singer has become spectacle enough: a gloriously unpretentious endurance machine whose appetite for ritual debasement complicates metal’s fixation with alpha-male dominance. Try to imagine another rocker opening his concert, as Osbourne did, with a goofy video package in which he inserts himself into scenes from “Jersey Shore” and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video. Or one as unworried by unflattering angles: At times Tuesday, the roving cameramen at the Gibson seemed determined to use the venue’s various screens to showcase Osbourne’s middle-aged paunch. Had “The Osbournes” not already revealed his physical liabilities six years ago, he might have cared. But probably not.
In terms of music, Tuesday’s show was fine: broad-stroke pop-metal with too many gloopy keyboard parts. Osbourne’s four-piece band comprised the capable young guys with whom he made last year’s “Scream,” but they sounded less committed to material from that album than they did to chestnuts by Osbourne’s old group Black Sabbath. (Unless your set list also includes “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog,” this is likely to be the case.) Drummer Tommy Clufetos gave “Fairies Wear Boots,” from Sabbath’s 1970 benchmark “Paranoid,” a meaty swing, while the guitarist known as Gus G provided “War Pigs” with a fresh coat of sludge-rock slime. None of them could rescue “Fire in the Sky,” a grim late-’80s solo cut that sounded no more distinctive than anything former Guns N’ Roses member Slash played during his wan opening set.
Good or bad, though, Osbourne’s music served an ancillary function Tuesday to his cartoon-nuisance banter and his trembly, low-tech stage business. He was there to prove he’s still here.
-- Mikael Wood
Photo: Ozzy Osbourne. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images