No More Tours, Again and Again...
Ozzy Osbourne at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario
with Danzig, Sepultura and Neurotic Gypsies, September 28, 1996

by: Alain M. Gaudrault
I could hear opening act Neurotic Gypsies as I was waiting to pick up my tickets at the wicket. Sounded like nothing special, but of course, we still weren't in the venue. Unfortunately, it didn't get much better after we'd taken our seats. This unknown act, who filled the slot for Clutch, who filled the slot for Fear Factory, who took over for Prong after their recent breakup, smacked of Alice in Chains clones, thanks to the sub-par Layne Staley-esque vocal delivery. The music seemed rooted in 80s-era heavy metal, which made me believe that they were likely a last-minute replacement from the greater Toronto area, as this style of music still seems to pervade here, despite its lack of popularity. A forgettable act, particularly with the remaining lineup lying in wait.

Sepultura were on next, much to my surprise, as I expected them to be of higher ranking than ex-Misfits modern day goth-crooner, Glen Danzig. It's a shame their set was so short, as it basically forced the band to choose between focusing on their latest two (highly successful) albums, or pleasing the older crowd with past favourites. They chose the former of the two approaches, playing nothing from their first four releases, and only the title track off their fifth, _Arise_. Disappointing to an longtime fan, to say the least. I must admit that they did a good job of playing what they did, turning in solid performances, yet not overly spectacular, possibly because none of the new material seems to be particularly difficult to play, taking away from the frenetic pace which graced Sepultura shows of yesteryear. The fusion of the South American tribal music to metal makes for an interesting listen, and the 6-person tribal drumming session at the end of the set was rather memorable, and yet the music itself is quite forgettable. The crowd in the pit ate it up, though, but then, I've seen trendies mosh at far lamer shows in the past.

Quicker than you can spark up another spliff, Danzig took the stage and proceeded to show the world just how much he loves himself. Opening with massive hit "Mother", the band received a reasonably enthousiastic response which lessened as the set dragged on. Danzig's brand of "goth and roll" can be a bit hard to take. It has the semblance of sleazy 80s-era hard rock, but with a darker, doomier edge. While I personally found the material more entertaining in a live setting, the crowd didn't really seem to be getting into the music, or perhaps they were actually listening, for a change. Regardless, Glen Danzig pranced around like the steroid-pumped rock star he wants himself to be, and did a good job of that. His vocals were acceptable, particularly towards the end, but his unmelodic yelling and shortness of breath detracted from what could have been adequate material on a good night. The most interesting part of the set was the band's latest addition, ex-Prong guitarist/songwriter Tommy Victor, who's bound to suffer the constraints of working with the likes of Glen.

It was obvious that timing was crucial, as the first opening act had started playing immediately at 19:00, as advertised; now, after only 10 or 15 minutes at most, Ozzy was ready to take the stage, but not before the video montage which has become de rigueur on his latest tours. The two large composite monitors adorning each side of the stage were just big enough to offer everyone a good view of the sometimes funny, sometimes self-aggrandizing footage. Whereas the montage leading into last year's performance at Toronto's RPM Warehouse consisted mostly of Ozzy slickly spliced into various well-known music videos and movies, a large portion of this year's served to showcase the career of heavy metal's madman, featuring concert footage with the mighty Black Sabbath, outtakes from the Randy Rhoades era, clips from his mid-eighties glam stage, and full circle to the more heavily Sabbath-inspired releases of late, most importantly _Ozzmosis_, the album which he is currently promoting.

After a shorter-than-expected video session, the real Ozzy took the stage to an eager audience, who immediately seemed to be transported back in time some 15 years. Chants of "Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy" were screamed everywhere, home-made banners were proudly displayed by fans, and lighters burned brightly during Ozzy's ballads. Of course, I can't really blame them all. After all, I :was: wearing my 13-year old "Bark at the Moon" jersey with the white sleeves, and I :did: get the urge to stand up and pound my fist in the air. Ozzy generally does a good job of pleasing just about all of his fans, and has a pretty good idea what his audience wants to hear. His band, featuring Joe Holmes (former student of Ozzy's late ex-guitarist, Randy Rhoades) on guitar, ex-Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo, ex-Faith No More drummer Mike Borden, and an unknown (and inaudibly introduced) keyboardist who filled in the empty spaces in the music, were quite adept at playing the whole spectrum of Ozzy's catalogue. Several Sabbath numbers were performed, including "Paranoid", "Iron Man", "Sweet Leaf" (one of my personal favourites), and "Children of the Grave". Oddly enough, though, despite the massive success of 1986's _The Ultimate Sin_ and the well-received _No Rest for the Wicked_ (1988), not a single track was played from either of these albums, possibly an attempt to downplay some of the more embarrassing moments from a period known for its willingness to reward style over substance. I suppose, having Joe Holmes in his band, Ozzy feels it's a good opportunity to put more emphasis on his older material, which in my opinion is clearly superior. Emphasize he does, playing mainstays such as "Crazy Train", "Suicide Solution" and "Goodbye to Romance". Holmes executed Rhodes' work quite skillfully, mirroring many of the late guitarist's techniques. Strange that a tour in support of an album should only feature a single track off the latest release, but I've read an interview where Ozzy admits that his producer pushed him so hard in the studio that he now has a difficult time performing the material live. "I Just Want You", his latest single, was the only _Ozzmosis_ track performed that night.

Unfortunately, most of Ozzy's set was plagued with vocal problems. Ozzy just isn't feeling all that well, it seems, and in all honesty, it showed. His voice would cut out entirely at times, he could reach none of the high notes, and his singing seemed gravely. It's unclear whether it served to rest his weary body, soothe his sore throat, or just to give the rest of the band some space, but Ozzy vanished for awhile in the middle of the set while the rest of the cast played an instrumental medley of Sabbath and early-era Ozzy tunes. I started wondering if he'd even come back. Another handful of songs, and Ozzy called it quits, coming back for the obligatory encore. The set was a tad on the short side, but considering the state of his vocals, I can't say I blame the poor guy. This show is recommended mostly for fans of Ozzy who want a return to the way things used to be done, which apparently is a Hell of a lot of people, judging from the crowd.

(article submitted 11/10/1996)


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