Taken from The Star (Sep 05, 2018)
Ozzy Osbourne satisfies metalheads with solid, sold-out Toronto show
Ozzy Osbourne - 3 of 4 Stars
by Ben Rayner
Hard rocker Ozzy Osbourne, seen here on his recent tour, which took him to Toronto's Budweiser Stage on Sept. 4. (MARK WEISS)
At Budweiser Stage on Sept. 4, with Stone Sour.
"Farewell" tours are a sham as old as the act of touring itself but, hey, you never know, right?
You pick your battles. So while there was a long period of waffling on this ol' metalhead's part as to whether or not he would attend the lone Canadian date on Ozzy Osbourne's knowingly meta-titled No More Tours 2 ... oh, what's the word? ... tour at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto on Tuesday night, eventually the "What if he really means it this time?" prospect won out. Ozzy staged the original "No More Tours" tour in 1992 amidst the fantasies of slipping away forever into retirement, which he fleetingly entertained before embarking upon the six subsequent world tours that followed - the first of which, begun in 1995, was dubbed the "Retirement Sucks" tour - before this summer's return to the road. But what if the No More Tours 2 tour really, really means no more tours?
I don't believe it. You don't believe it. Ozzy doesn't believe it. "I'm not retiring," he told Rolling Stone in February. "I'm just not doing world tours anymore." I heard the same line from Rob Halford of Judas Priest - the other band that basically invented what became popularly known as "heavy metal" alongside Ozzy and his bandmates in Black Sabbath in Birmingham during the late '60s - back in 2011, and that lot has been back, give or take a member, at least twice since then. Even Black Sabbath is now threatening to reunite again after staging its own farewell tour a couple of years ago.
But what if? At 69, metal's most lovable bogeyman can't have that much more roadwork in his future. Might as well catch him while you can. And, fortunately, Ozzy's game is fairly tight at the moment. Tuesday night's gig was a solid 95 minutes' worth of entertainment. No messin' around with iffy new stuff, just a whack of old-school favourites delivered with contagious enthusiasm by Osbourne and his band - guitarist Zakk Wylde, bassist Rob "Blasko" Nicholson, drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboardist Adam Wakeman - before a sold-out, 16,000-strong crowd hanging lovingly and loudly on every word and every riff. If this does indeed turn out to be Ozzy's last visit to Toronto, we got exactly what we wanted.
Osbourne's cartoonish reputation as one of metal's most legendary waste cases for a time threatened to overshadow his musical accomplishments, but Tuesday's show was proof of just how many ageless tunes the man has committed to the rock 'n' roll canon.
After hitting the ground running with the '80s solo smashes "Bark at the Moon," "Mister Crowley" and "I Don't Know," Ozzy and the band really dug into a truly monstrous version of Black Sabbath's "Fairies Wear Boots" and barely let the energy lapse for the rest of the night. "Suicide Solution" was a little sluggish, maybe, and Ozzy's off-key warbling on the power ballads "Road to Nowhere" and "I Don't Want to Change the World" were the only moments on the night where his voice truly exhibited the very real wear and tear he's put it through over the years. Generally, though, this was a most respectable outing for a chap of his grandfatherly vintage.
True, the beardy and be-kilted Wylde probably didn't need the full 15 or 20 minutes he took to demonstrate his guitar prowess while strolling to the four corners of the amphitheatre to perform an exhausting solo at the end of Sabbath's "War Pigs" since the guy basically never stops showing off his guitar prowess. He might be the most obnoxious lead guitarist on the planet, forever cramming way too many notes into every available space in every song - he would rejoin the band onstage after Clufetos's own drum solo for yet another endless burnout on "Shot in the Dark" - but this is also why Zakk Wylde is kind of awesome. It works in context. And, man, that low-end riff on "No More Tears," which might just be the best single in Ozzy's catalogue, is still titanic. He and Ozzy, who parted ways for a few years not long ago, kinda need each other. They're a perfect match. A match made in Hell, if you will.
Anyway, things wrapped up rather abruptly after that solo, with only "Shot in the Dark" and the requisite, blistering run at "Crazy Train" giving way to a curt encore of "Mama, I'm Coming Home" and Sabbath's calling-card classic "Paranoid" before the lights came up well before the Budweiser Stage's usual 11 p.m. curfew. Clearly, Ozzy doesn't have quite the juice he used to and needs his beauty sleep these days. But he did a damn good job with the juice he still has left in him on Tuesday.
His return to these parts, should there be one, will be most welcome. And let's be honest: this probably isn't farewell.