Sabbath are iron men in uneven Ozzfest
By Tom Kielty , Globe Correspondent, 8/9/2001
MANSFIELD - They came in all shapes and sizes, and, if nothing else, they were a hearty lot. The region's most dedicated headbangers spent more than 12 hours in 90-plus degree heat getting acquainted with heavy metal's latest volume addicts and celebrating the genre's most well-respected groundbreaker, Black Sabbath.
Playing the headlining slot in lead singer Ozzy Osbourne's signature Ozzfest Tuesday night, the heavy British legends did not disappoint.
With Osbourne in vintage prankster form, spraying the audience with two rifle-shaped firehoses, Sabbath dug immediately in with their signature muscle. Osbourne took delight as guitarist Tony Iommi unleashed the signature rip of ''N.I.B.'' Blazing with the intensity of the Sabbath-emblazoned cross that dramatically caught fire as the band got rolling, it was indicative of the straightforward approach fans have always embraced.
Working through a catalog of hits that must be the career aspiration of most of the day's performers, the metal veterans seem mired by sound difficulties during ''Snowblind'' but had gotten themselves onto firmer terrain by the night's most well-received highlight, ''The Wizard,'' a track never before performed in this country by the original Sabbath lineup.
The newly written blues-influenced ''Scary Days'' proved Sabbath has not lost its way around a hook. Tour buses covered with enormous visages of Osbourne and Iommi prove the group's marketing hooks remain sharp as well.
In his set immediately preceding Black Sabbath, pop culture curiosity Marilyn Manson struggled to strike a chord with the Ozzfest patronage. His black corset and frayed pantyhose seemed surprisingly familiar after repeated post-Columbine network television viewings, though the band impressed at the moments it dug into classic-rock melodicism. Manson's glam-rock workings on songs such as ''Dope Show'' demand that he be afforded the respect of the Mott The Hoople crowd, but with the exception his black-clad devotees, the Ozzfest crowd seemed caught between bemusement and boredom.
An overturned truck on Route 140 delayed many fans, but those who avoided the spill caught Crazy Town's rap-tinged take on classic rock muscle. Their ''Butterfly'' mixed a contemporary hip-hop rhythm with throwaway white-boy lyrics but nonetheless won over the middling crowd. It's unfortunate that their mainstage predecessor, Zakk Wylde, didn't get the message. During a belabored and murky set that seemed intent on emulating more successful rap-metal innovators, Wylde chose to instead attack urban music.
Linkin Park's passionate set of electronica-driven rock met with an enthusiastic response and a rush of onlookers. By the conclusion of their set the Tweeter Center pavilion seats were at capacity.
Papa Roach seemed in many ways to be the ordinary guy's reason to attend Ozzfest. Their plaintive and powerful delivery worked well in the afternoon twilight and stood in stark contrast to the theatrics of Slipknot.
Taking the stage in a noisy flurry, the clown-faced act inspired a round of drunken fistfights that were the impetus for the day's first mass exodus.
This story ran on page 7 of the Boston Globe on 8/9/2001.