Reviews of Ozzfests Past

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006; 5:00 PM

Touring summer festivals have largely fallen by the wayside -- no more H.O.R.D.E., no more Lilith Fair, Lollapalooza is just a one-city event. But one festival that has maintained its momentum over the past decade is the celebration of all things metal that is Ozzfest. The Post has covered the majority of these shows and has found that the real show is just as often in the audience as on stage. 

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May 27, 1997
What's Ozzy Osbourne to do? Attention used to be so easy to come by, requiring little more than textbook occult imagery or the occasional nibble of fresh bat. But shock is cheap now, so Ozzfest '97 -- with 13 bands playing on two stages -- joined the summer festival circuit to remind the bleached-and-pierced crowd who started it all. Saturday's daylong show at Nissan Pavilion also saw heavy-metal dads and moms (with kids in tow) checking out rising metal acts, plus heavy hitters Type O Negative and Pantera. Osbourne performed his solo hits, but the real news was his reunion with the other seminal members of Black Sabbath after nearly 20 years.

The most notable side-stage band was Neurosis, whose tribal grind made some main-stage bands seem wan and calculated. Pantera's performance, for example, suffered from muddy sound, and lead howler Phil Anselmo seemed a lot less dangerous, what with all the picnickers on the pavilion lawn.

Osbourne appeared after a wonderfully snotty short film that superimposed him onto scenes from "Pulp Fiction," "The Wizard of Oz" and other movies. With a young, energetic backup band, he faithfully reproduced hits like "Suicide Solution" and "Crazy Train," which were intercut with film footage of his late guitarist Randy Rhoads. And all with that infamous crazed look in his eyes -- or maybe that was the mascara. In black sweat pants, white athletic shoes and vest over a bare torso, Osbourne looked less the madman than a pudgy, middle-aged aerobicizer.

That changed once the other members of Black Sabbath -- attired in black, naturally -- took the stage. Over the eerie din of air raid sirens and footage of an atomic cloud, they launched a massive rendition of "War Pigs." With the huge gold Crucifix on guitarist Tony Iommi's chest, dozens of black crosses on the blue backdrop, and the roiling crowd, the scene might have been mistaken for a (deafening) tent revival. Some of their songs may have been a bit too old, since Osbourne was fed lyrics by a TelePrompTer.

Nevertheless, the encore performance of "Paranoid" inspired fans to rush the stage and brandish folding chairs, and several people were tackled by security.

Bob Massey
The Washington Post

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August 4, 1998
Ozzy Osbourne's performance at the Ozzfest '98 tour, which ended at the Nissan Pavilion on Sunday, began with a film montage that used some digital magic to insert Osbourne into a handful of current videos -- there was Ozzy as one of the Hanson boys (complete with blond wig), Ozzy as one of those "Riverdance" guys and, yes, even Ozzy singing along as one of the Spice Girls.

It was a hilarious way to begin the show.

Singing songs from his solo career, Ozzy paced from one corner of the stage to the other, jumping up and down like a big kid and clapping his hands. Which poses a particular problem for the fan: Do you clap your hands when Ozzy does, or do you clap your hands to the actual beat of the music?


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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