© Paul Hebert/Icon SMI/Corbis
It's fair to say that Rhythm approached Saturday's Ozzy Osbourne show at London's Roundhouse with a little trepidation. Would Ozzy still have what it takes? How would new boy Tommy Clufetos match up to Mike Bordin, Bill Ward and co?, and how about Gus G stepping into man-mountain axe-master Zakk Wlyde's sizable shoes for that matter? Now the dust has settled we're happy to report that we needn't have worried…
Before the self-proclaimed Prince of Darkness hit the stage we were treated to UK up-and-comers Black Spiders. With a Sabbath-meets-Kyuss vibe these guys were never going to fail tonight and they deliver in spades. Drummer Si Atkinson looks every inch the man possessed as he rocks out with the kind of facial expressions that you'd only normally see a man pull if he got into a very hot bath too quickly. These guys are destined for big things, and tonight we witness their progression from dingy club band to an arena-sized act (they even put together a pretty light show which is beamed behind them). A great start to the night.
While it would be impossible (ok, not literally impossible, but it would be a downright lie) to say that Ozzy's voice holds up for the full set, at times he's painfully off key, that only serves to somehow add to his charm. He's the boy done good. A working classes Brummie who's gone on to become one of the world's biggest rock icons and it would take someone with a heart of stone not to enjoy tonight's show.
'Bark At The Moon; is an anthemic way to kickstart the show, with those lucky enough to have bagged tickets turning one of Ozzy's trademark solo efforts into a singalong spectacular. New track 'Let Me Hear You Scream' continues the party, and offers Clufetos - who was playing a huge two kick drum Sonor set-up - his first opportunity to shine with some ferocious double bass and expertly-executed 16ths.
'Mr Crowley' and Sabbath classic 'Fairies Wear Boots' are equally well-received, even if Ozzy's insistence at straying into an American accent between songs is slightly annoying and a little bit odd, really. Nevertheless he makes up for it with his livewire performance, even if the row of security at the front of the stage seem pretty non-plussed each time he hurls another bucket of water into the crowd.
Halfway in Ozzy pops backstage for a well-earned breather and we're treated to solos from new boys Clufetos and Gus G. The former steps up to the mark, throwing in some open-handed playing amongst more pounding double bass. The latter's effort is decent enough yet surprisingly short, although we are judging this on Zakk Wlyde's solo spot timekeeping gauge.
As Ozzy returns so does the classic Sabbath, with Clufetos filling the shoes of Bill Ward, Mike Bordin and all the others that have laid down the beats for these classics over the years with painstaking professionalism, staying faithful to the tunes while throwing in the odd bit of flash for extra colour. While the classics are obviously welcome, a couple more cuts from the recent Scream album would have been nice, 'Soul Sucker' in particular is an absolute beast that would sound massively epic live.
A final burst including 'Iron Man' and 'Crazy Train' and 'Paranoid' ensures that the show ends just as strongly as it had begun as Ozzy proves once again that he really is the Prince of Darkness. We'll see you all at Ozzfest…