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Ozzy Osbourne says goodbye (sort of) with Blossom season finale

September 17, 2018

Ozzy Osbourne says goodbye (sort of) with Blossom season finale

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – “Can you believe I’ve nearly made it to 70?″ Ozzy Osbourne asked a sellout crowd at the final Blossom Music Center show of the year Sunday.

Honestly, no. With the booze and drugs and health issues? No.

He followed his question with an exclamation about his surprising survival: “I’m so happy!″

Guess what, Ozzman? We are, too.

Ozzy will become a septuagenarian on Dec. 3, bless his heart. He insisted that this “No More Tours 2” tour was not, in fact, a career finale. While it’s unrealistic to expect, here’s hoping he’s still doing his rock ‘n’ roll shtick for another seven decades. Music needs entertainment like this again.

See, rock has in some ways lost its showmanship. That’s not to say that there aren’t good bands out there, good bands. Shoot, one of them – Corey Taylor’s Stone Sour project – opened Sunday’s gig, and delivered a rousing, ear-shattering 40 minutes of metal.

But there’s not another Ozzy Osbourne.

He ambles about the stage like a doddering old man, hunched at the hips, and with the hand gestures that you might expect from Grandpa Simpson. But then those mascaraed eyes gleam wild, the microphone comes to his lips and he (and we) are transformed.

Ozzy – it’s impossible, really, to call him “Osbourne,″ as we professional-type journalists are supposed to do on second reference – remains one of the most charismatic artists in the business.

Maybe his secret is that as he said, he can still go crazy after all these years. Stage props like a bucket of water for soaking his own head – and then the crowd – and a fully functional firehose to drench the pit (and at least one security guard who didn’t look exactly thrilled) have long been a part of his act.

The things we love about Ozzy -- the crazy eyes, the stylized bat applique on his T-shirt, the splendiferous purple rhinestone cape he sported when he first walked onstage, the over-the-top gestures – they’re all just props as well. The real gift is the voice.

And that’s what’s truly amazing. Just weeks away from 70, his voice has most of the same power it had in his 30s, all delivered in his trademark vocal climb. If you listen to his interviews, his speech is so mumbly that it almost is gibberish, especially to American ears. But when he sings, the words are enunciated with a clarity that’s simply striking.

Now, I have no doubt that the big things masquerading as wedge monitors in front of him were huge teleprompters, with oversize type. Memory is the second thing to go when you reach a certain again, after all. I can’t recall the first one, but that’s not important.

Doesn’t matter one iota. He was able to deliver “Bark at the Moon,″ “Mr. Crowley,″ “Suicide Solution,″ Fairies Wear Boots,″ “No More Tears″ and especially “War Pigs″ and “Paranoid” as if they were all new tunes destined to be monster hits, not blasts from the past.

Not that “blasts from the past” is a bad thing. Proof of that came about nine songs into the 15-tune show, when guitarist Zakk Wylde strode into the crowd and delivered a totally 1970s-worthy, 15-minute-plus guitar solo, and when drummer Tommy Clufetos followed that with a lengthy drum solo that had all the speed and cleanliness of Gene Krupa dueling with Buddy Rich, only in a John Bonham frenzy.

For a minute there, I thought, “Wow, this was worth missing tonight’s new episode of ‘Bonanza!’ ″

Some bands from the era that was Ozzy’s heyday come through here and, quite frankly, embarrass themselves. I get that, as it’s not just athletes who have a hard time realizing when to hang it up.

That is most assuredly not the case with Ozzy. One of his biggest hits is “I Don’t Want to Change the World,″ which includes the line “I don’t want to change the world / And I don’t want the world to change me.″

As if that could happen.

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