Ozzy Osbourne layeth the smack down last night at the Pepsi Center with Slash -- he of the shaggy mane, top hat, Velvet Revolver and, of course, Guns N' Roses -- in tow. A chair-packed stadium floor might not be what the Ozz-man usually cometh to, but it didn't deter anyone from having a flash-back party to when guitars were shredded beyond recognition and drums were beaten like they were designed to be.
Ozzy couldn't have picked a more perfect opener than Slash. The newest addition to Slash's band is lead singer Myles Kennedy, whose vocals sound about two steps lower than Axel Rose's, as was immediately evident on the cover of "My Michelle." "Back From Cali" followed the other G'n'R hit "NightTrain," before Slash slowed things down a tad with "Starlight."
"My Michelle" was the highlight of the set. When Kennedy crooned "Your daddy works in porno/Now that mommy's not around/She used to love her heroin/But now she's underground," Slash showed off his slide-skills on that crucial note. Baa-WOW!
Just as the final "MICHELLE!" was screamed into the microphone, the lights dimmed, and Slash took center stage. Everyone's denims immediately turned stone-washed, T-shirts were spontaneously transformed into cut-offs and the horns were thrown high. He effortlessly turned on the retro and opened into "Sweet Child o Mine," which, to nobody's surprise, into a full on '80s frenzy.
Velvet Revolver, Slash's former and short lived super group, were credited with the cover of "Slither." And the near-perfect GN'R cover set concluded with a dedication to the greatest city on Earth. (Um, that would be Denver, Colorado. Thank you very much.) "Paradise City" closed it out with a spotlight on the drummer and the guitarist.
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As the set break came to a close, a stream of movie tributes appeared on the screen. First, Ozzy as an Avatar with a lengthy, blue penis. Next came Ozzy as a character in "The Hangover." Then Ozzy playing the Beyonce part in Lady Gaga's "Telephone," music video. Of course, what parody is complete without some sort of homage to the Twilight series? Sure enough, Ozzy appeared as Edward, except he had large, CGI enhanced breasts. Finally, the most obvious tribute of the bunch flashed on the screen: the opening scene from IronMan 2, this time with Ozzy coming out of the suit and proclaiming to the crowd, "I am IRONMAN!"
Indeed he is.
After the movie shorts, Ozzy came running out to an uncontainably exuberant crowd. It was possibly the only time it looked like he was going to fall over under his own weight. A classic in the Ozzy cannon, "Bark at the Moon," opened the set. On several occasions, perhaps when the lyrics escaped him, he just yelled, "Let me hear you scream," and, of course, everyone, on cue, gleefully complied.
Ironically, "Let Me Hear You Scream," the lead single from the album, Scream, didn't really have the same effect on the crowd as the previous song. But, alas, Ozzy rolled into "Mr. Crowley," an oldie but goodie that exemplifies his trademark vocals with the drawn out opening lines. The guitars made this tune especially impressive as they were following the cue of Ozzy's vocals, which he chose to delay at certain points to build the anticipation.
"Road to Nowhere," took the things down a peg or two, but only for one song. Ozzy hopped aboard the party-train to Propagandaville with the 1970 Black Sabbath hit off the Paranoid album, "War Pigs." Singing every other verse and letting the Pepsi Center handle backup duties, Ozzy, in front of a backdrop featuring a large slideshow of vintage war footage, made the classic tune ring clear and true. The powerhouse ballad "Shot In The Dark," followed "War Pigs," which then rolled into a solo from his new guitarist.
Ozzy disappeared from the stage for a bit while stagehands readied a large contraption under the drummer. More fireworks? More Ozzy-foam spewage? Neither. Instead, the drummer's platform slowly rose on a hydraulic scissor lift until he was nearly twenty feet in the air. The rest of the band slowly backed off the stage while the drummer took the reins of the show for a few minutes and exploded into a long drum solo displaying his range of expertise on the skins.
At first, it was a rapid fire double-bass that sounded so fast you'd think it was a triple-bass. And just when you thought he was done, he would build it up again and explode into another craze of rapid-fire kicks. And another. And another. Until finally, he rose up from his throne, hand in the air, and let the crowd yell at him until he closed it out with a machine-gun improv that surely left his sticks bruised and battered. It was insane.
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Ozzy came back out, still soaked from the constant buckets of water to the face, and fired up "Iron Man." Everyone loves "Iron Man" and with good reason. On record, this song sounds perfect. Live, this song is even better, and though Ozzy is nearing the ripe age of 63, he still belts out the lines with the same intensity he probably did more than two decades ago.
After "I Know How To Change The World," Ozzy and company played "Crazy Train," but with a different and heavier intro. As promised, as long as the crowd maintained it's "craziness," Ozzy kept playing into the night. "Mama I'm Coming Home" was the first song of the encore before he and the band thanked everyone and closed out with "Paranoid," another Black Sabbath hit from way back when, but, nonetheless, still a classic.
The house lights came up at 10:30, pretty much right on the dot, and the wide-age-ranged crowd piled out. Ozzy's foam gun, which was brought out on several occasions and probably ruined a lot of people's iPhone filming capabilities, let everyone know who was standing front row and who wasn't. Fortunately, that's not a sign of anything beyond seating location, as there wasn't any displeased faces, nor should there be. This is the motherfucking Prince of Darkness, man. This man is still rocking hard, and if his dentures allowed it, I am sure he would've bit the head off of a fucking buffalo to prove he can still rock like no other.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I was secretly hoping for several songs, all of which were played. This leads me to believe I was not the only one wanting to hear them. Not all my Black Sabbath fantasies were fulfilled, but "Paranoid" is up there in my favorites. Random Detail: Age range varied from twelve-year-olds, to twentysomethings, to mid-forty-year-olds and all the way up to some seniors. By The Way:The ticket said the show started at 7:30, but by that time, Slash and his band were already on their third song. Overheard at the Show: "I saw Ozzy at McNichols in '87!"