Ozzy Osbourne was back in the old neighborhood on Saturday, howling and drenching fans with a fire hose at the second annual Sunset Strip Music Fest. For years, he lived just blocks away in a house made famous during four seasons of The Osbournes, reinventing the Prince of Darkness as a befuddled, foul-mouthed family man. But with his annual Ozzfest tour on hiatus, the heavy metal frontman used the weekend’s outdoor setting to reignite selections from his ominous hit parade.
It was his first full concert performance on the Strip since Black Sabbath played five nights at the Whisky in 1970. (He appeared briefly there last year as a guest vocalist with Camp Freddy at the Roxy.) For his hour-long set, he mingled early Sabbath classics with solo hits, including “I Don’t Wanna Stop” (from 2007’s Black Rain album), but offered no preview of songs from recent sessions for his next album.
One of his earliest solo singles, 1980’s “Mr. Crowley,” began with an eerie keyboard solo from Adam Wakeman (son of Rick) as Osbourne lifted his hands like a man rising from the dead, a madman grin on his face. On guitar was Gus G., making his second live appearance in Osbourne’s band. His guitar could have been louder in the mix, but he otherwise had little trouble recreating the heaviest riffs of guitarists Tony Iommi (Sabbath), Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde.
Osbourne picked the up hose again to douse the crowd as his band stretched out on the middle-section of Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” with drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More) and bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson locked into the original’s severe, rumbling groove.
The festival took place on a blocked off section of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood between the Whisky and the Key Club, with two outdoor stages and several clubs open throughout the day. Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley closed the night with a solo gig at the Viper Room, and the mainstage acts included Korn, Pepper and the Donnas.
Korn was louder, but it was Osbourne who fully personified the event. His image decorated the side of one building on a huge banner overlooking the festival, and he was honored Thursday at an tribute at the House of Blues Sunset Strip. The Saturday set was over after 10 songs, but Osbourne looked happy as he observed a crowd of thousands stretched down the boulevard.
“Thank you,” he told them, waving as he left the stage. “You are fucking beautiful!”
“I Don’t Know”
“Bark at the Moon”
“I Don’t Wanna Stop”
“I Don’t Want to Change the World”