Travelling in London yesterday was, in the words of A7X, a fucking nightmare. But, it was worth braving the very worst of the capital's dysfunctional weekend public transport to experience Mr Osbourne at the O2.
Arriving flustered, peeved (especially having missed the brilliant Skindred!) and late (very late), I just about caught the sounds of the end of Korn's set but managed to stock
up on necessary beverages before settling in to my eagle's eyrie of a seat in a disappointingly not packed O2.
After witnessing the pomp and downright braggadocio of Muse's conquering of Wembley
last week, the first thing that struck me was the 'standard' stage set up. No castles of yore, or big hands, or iron men, just a ridiculously huge and shiny drum kit on a portable riser, a neat backline of menacing blackstar amps, a circle of foldback around the front of the stage.
Ok, it's set up. The pit's full, folk have found their way back to their seats (complete with beer holders). Let the pantomime begin.
For that's what this is.
More Prince charming than the prince of darkness.
A very funny selection of spoof videos with neatly comped-in Ozzzies sets the tone. A disembodied brummy drawl bays at the crowd to make some fucking noise. We're off.
He may be old. He may sometimes appear that coherent speech is beyond him. He walks like an old woman at a bring and buy sale. He shakes. But man, he still rocks.
It all kicks off with a rebel rousing Bark at the moon. Then Let Me Hear You Scream followed by Mr Crowley. The crowd are loving it. Cajoled by our ringmaster at every opportunity, 'clap your hands', 'I can't hear you', and the slightly bizarre refrain that is going to feature in just about every tune, 'Oi'Oi'.
Not since Gary Bushell back in the mists of time coined 'Oi' as a genre (ask your
grandparents kids) has the word been aired so freely.
Meeeeeester Crowleeeeey, oi, oi, oi. You get the picture.
This is the defining pantomime clarion call. To be frank, probably overdone but the crowd don't seem to care, duly and diligently responding whenever Ozzy's widow twanky begs them to do so. Going off the raiiiils on a crazeeee train, oi, oi, oi!
The set list is spectacular with old favourites mixed up with even older favourites. He even played Fairies wear boots (complete with ois), for God's sake - brilliant. And an astonishing vesrion of Into The Void.
This is a man who completely comes alive like a weird shapeshifer as soon as he's behind a mike and sandwiched between a drum kit, bass and stunning guitar.
And stunning it is. I fondly remember seeing Ozzy on the Blizzard of Oz tour in the early 80s with the wonderful, late, great Randy Rhoads. Let it be whispered, but Gus G is, er, how does one say this...even better than mr Rhoads. There, I said it.
Technically he is brilliant, he has a wonderful clarity and precision melded beautifully with tough and feel. This guy has to be one of the very best plank spankers around. But, given Ozzy's track record with Sir Iommi and Lord Wylde, that's not really a surprise.
The gig just snowballs. A surprisingly circle-pit free (apart from one pussy effort at the end) crowd, dine greedily at what Oz serves up. Even with the, by now, slightly unpalatable Ois. He rolls of one stunner after another, dipping briefly for Road to Nowhere as an homage to Ronnie. But Iron Man is just spectacular. The whole throng joining in with the Woo, ooh, ooh-ooh-oh, ooo-ooo-ooo oo ooh ooh you. Impressive and spine-tingly memorable stuff.
And not a drop to drink
Throughout the evening Mr John Osbourne constantly dips his head into a blue bucket of water, consequently spending most of the set looking like a freshly washed black labrador or an extra from Waterworld. He also has an army surplus German water canon, with which he ritually and mischievously sprayed the crowd, camera crew, security, photographers and any other moving target. The pantomime was complete. Well, apart from the Tiswasesque chucking of buckets of water over the adoring hordes.
The set comes to a crescendo for Crazy train. And what a crescendo. Not a dry eye, arse, pair of panties, crotch or torso in the house.
A brief break then back to kick some more arse. Ending, unsurprisingly, but brilliantly with a party-ending arse-shaking, finger-pointing version of Paranoid. Splendid.
The clown prince of darkness still has it. Never have old Sabs songs sounded so meaty, so raw, so hard. Testament to the strength of the songs as well as the energetic, and technically perfect performance.
Oi Oi indeed.