Ozzy Osbourne performs in Rish Lezion on Sunday night, July 10, 2018..
(photo credit: ROSS HALFIN)
Israel has been getting used to British royalty recently. A couple of weeks ago, Prince William paid us a visit and charmed the nation. Tonight, it was British royalty of a very different kind that arrived. Ozzy Osbourne is known as the Prince of Darkness and the Godfather of Heavy Metal. He created the genre almost single handed in the 1970s with his band Black Sabbath and throughout the 1980s and early 90s during his solo career. On Sunday night, the 69-year-old played a truly memorable set to a raucous 20,000 sell-out crowd at the Rishon Lezion Live Park in the Israeli leg of his Farewell Tour.
The stage set included a giant crucifix-shaped LED which displayed roaring flames and various other psychedelic effects during the show. There were also giant screens to show hazy footage of the performance and laser displays. All this added to the atmosphere. But it was Osbourne himself and his well-oiled band of supremely talented musicians that ripped the night to shreds with a magnificent belting performance.
The show started with a very short montage of photographs on the screens of Osbourne as a young boy and then through different stages of his career, before the band launched into the first song of the night, “Bark at the Moon”.
Too many these days will only know Osbourne as a mumbling bumbling caricature of himself from his MTV series The Osbournes in which he starred with his wife Sharon and two of their children. To many more, including everyone who came to the show on Sunday night, Osbourne is a living legend, a rock icon and the last of a dying breed. We came to see this man of heavy metal nobility for maybe the last time and we were not left disappointed.
The man can still sing. Throughout his rendition of fan favorites such as “Mr. Crowley”, “I Don’t Know”, “Suicide Solution”, “Road to Nowhere” and “Crazy Train,” sprinkled with Black Sabbath classics “Fairies Wear Boots,” “War Pigs” and “Paranoid,” this great performer hit every note, each of which was crystal clear, pitch perfect and delivered with the fervor of a priest in the midst of deep prayer.
Heavy Metal is all too often associated with hell, the occult, black magic and other dark arts. He may have tried pulling his evil demonic face from time-to-time, which looked more funny than anything else, but what was on display most of all during his performance was a broad smile and beaming eyes.
This Prince of Darkness was radiating warmth and love for the crowd and he was feeding off the love that they were sending right back to him. As the crowd chanted “Ozzy, Ozzy” between each number, he told us repeatedly how happy he was to be here and how much he was enjoying himself and you could tell that every word was genuine. Throughout, he masterfully kept the crowd’s excitement at fever pitch like a well-practiced puppeteer.
The highlight of the show was a 22-minute rendition of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” which began with Osbourne and the crowd singing alternate lines with the famous minimalistic drums and bass accompanying, before Osbourne launched into the chorus. What then followed was a simply astounding guitar solo of several minutes played by Osbourne’s long-time lead guitarist Zakk Wylde, who is a legend in his own right and almost stole the show at some points.
During the “War Pigs” solo, he descended into the crowd and continued to play at electrifying pace while giving various sections of the crowd closest to the stage the chance to enjoy it up close and personal. This was a skillfully executed solo, every note in the right place, despite the fact that large chunks of it were played with the guitar around the back of his head and then with his teeth in a manner that would have left Jimi Hendrix flabbergasted. Eventually the guitar solo led into a long and rousing drum solo that provided Osbourne with some time to catch his breath before coming back to continue the show.
By the time the set ended with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” everybody was breathless and satisfied by this rocker’s performance.
It may be his Farewell Tour and we may not get to see him again, but you never know. At one point in the evening he promised that if we all went wild enough he would not wait so long to come back here again. Maybe it was a mistake, borne of having made similar promises countless times over the years to legions of adoring metal fans the world over. But maybe, just maybe, we went wild enough and maybe we might be lucky enough to have this royal dignitary grace us all on an Israeli stage again.