Live review: Ozzy Osbourne, Slash @ the Pepsi CenterBy Ricardo Baca and John Leyba | February 9th, 2011 | 3 comments
Straight out of the recent Super Bowl — which set records as the most-watched program in American television history on Sunday — Tuesday night’s bill at the Pepsi Center was a metalhead’s dream.
Slash, guest star in the Black Eyed Peas’ disastrous halftime performance, opened the show performing Guns ‘N Roses and Velvet Revolver songs with his four-piece band. And Ozzy Osbourne, who appeared in a critics’ favorite Super Bowl advertisement for Best Buy, headlined the evening with a selection of hits that spanned his solo years and those spent fronting Black Sabbath.
But while Tuesday’s show was a hard-rock haven, it was also a pop culture paradise. Osbourne’s set started with a video montage that spoofed the last year of mainstream entertainment, jumping from Ozzy cameos in “Avatar” and “Jersey Shore” — where the Prince of Darkness called character Snooki “a midget” — to “Twilight” and “Iron Man.” (Naturally, Osbourne is metal’s original “Iron Man,” which he proved later on when he took on the heavy metal classic.)
Osbourne even took on Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” short film/music video — and the strange juxtaposition was both creepy and hilarious. And that basically describes Osbourne’s persona in 2011.
After the MTV show “The Osbournes,” viewers are all too familiar with the metal man’s awkward, hunch-backed shuffle. And while it’s strange to see Osbourne creeping the length of the stage like some grandma cliché — especially while he’s backed up by talented, hard-bodied, core-shredding musicians like Gus G. on guitar — it’s who he is.
Osbourne is our barely-there, bend-at-the- knees metal god who still brings in the crowds.
That said, there were two surprises at Tuesday’s show. Firstly, Osbourne only filled about half of the Pepsi Center. Secondly, Osbourne’s voice was never one of the great metal howls, but his stage presence was similar to that of a modern-day Brian Wilson. As he meandered the stage and bopped along to classic hits like “Bark At the Moon” (which came early in the set) and “Crazy Train” (which came late), Osbourne seemed disoriented.
But the veil has been lifted, and Osbourne is as lovable as he is scary. And that made his dramatic performance — from Sabbath classics “War Pigs” and “Fairies Wear Boots” to Ozzy solo standards “Suicide Solution” and “Mr. Crowley” — a potent blast of metal gusto for the fans who still cared to hear it.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.