Ozzy/Slash Scream Tour
It was a tale of two Ozzys at the outset of the rock icon's concert at Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night.
Before Ozzy Osbourne the heavy metal architect, Black Sabbath co-founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer took the stage, we saw Ozzy the pop-culture personality, with a spoof video montage that digitally inserted the Prince of Darkness into scenes from Jersey Shore, Twilight and The Hangover. It was a lengthy presentation, designed to bring the Ozzy brand — less visible since his Osbournes reality TV series ended six years ago — up to speed.
But when the video ended and Ozzy excitedly shuffled onto the stage, we saw the side of the 62-year-old singer that's never needed an update.
"Let the madness begin!" Ozzy exclaimed as he and his band ripped into his 1983 song "Bark at the Moon." The music was more than enough — his sneering wail remains in commendable shape, and new guitarist Gus G plays with surgical precision — but Ozzy's one-of-a-kind persona and infectious enthusiasm were the heart of the show.
After finishing "Bark" and dumping a full bucket of water on his head, a dripping Ozzy walked the perimeter of the stage to greet the fans on either side. "You seem like my kind of people!" he said, before launching into "Let Me Hear You Scream," the lead single from his 2010 album Scream. From there, Ozzy and band moved through a parade of heavy metal hits and arena-rock antics.
Sparks rained down on the singer during the spooky organ intro to "Mr. Crowley." Elsewhere, he got his kicks with a bazooka-sized foam gun he'd kept hidden at the front of the stage, blasting fans in the front row with suds. At times, it was like he was leading the crowd through an entry-level aerobics class, getting them to sway to decidedly un-swayable songs and repeatedly commanding, "Let me see those (expletive) hands!"
Another popular Ozzy phrase Wednesday night: "I can't (expletive) hear you," which, naturally, would elicit even louder screams from the crowd. But considering the dozen or so speakers pointed directly at him during the show, it could have also been a legitimate statement.
He got what he was looking for when it came time to perform Black Sabbath's classic "War Pigs," trading the opening lines of the song with the audience. Soon, he'd leave the show in the hands of his band, who kept the room engaged with stock guitar and drum solo turns. Ozzy returned to close with four of his and Sabbath's most famous tunes: "Iron Man," "Crazy Train," "Mama, I'm Coming Home" and "Paranoid." After dousing his fans with more water and taking a bow with his band to a comically extensive fireworks display, he bid farewell to Nashville with a few words that might surprise some heavy metal detractors: "God bless you."
Another rock icon who took the stage at Bridgestone Wednesday night — Ozzy's opening act, Slash — treated fans to a quick set stocked with tunes from his former band, Guns n' Roses.
"Let's see if you've heard this one," Slash said to the crowd before beginning the famous guitar intro to "Sweet Child O' Mine." Sure, it was a timely chance to wipe out memories of his divisive appearance with the Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl halftime show. But it was also a reminder that he's been a key sonic architect of modern rock, with a sound and aesthetic that, like Ozzy, never goes out of style.