'Pale' Ozzy Moons Crowd at Ozzfest

updated 07/12/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/12/2002 01:00AM

The seventh annual Ozzfest, whose first two gigs were postponed as family matriarch Sharon Osbourne underwent (reportedly successful) colon cancer surgery, finally kicked off before 13,000 people Wednesday at Scranton, Pa.'s Montage Mountain Performing Arts Center. The eagerly anticipated event, however, struck several sour notes with New York Times reviewer Ben Ratliff. For starters, the critic carps, there were no shady spots or decent refreshments amid all the metal music. But, he reports, there was plenty of sun and heat, $9.50 beers and security guards who, according to the word among the crowd, were ready to bounce anybody who walked the wrong way out of the restrooms. (This, Ratliff noted, was in direct contrast to the message of Ozzfest and, certainly, of "The Osbournes": to be a free spirit.) As for the performance of Ozzy Osbourne, 53, The Times holds its applause. The MTV Madman reportedly made his entrance after a promotional film clip that sent up "Star Wars" and promoted next season's "The Osbournes." Ozzy bared his bottom (described as "old" and "pale") after his first song, "I Don't Know," then proved his musical mettle -- or what Ratliff considered he still had of it -- with the Black Sabbath antiwar song "War Pigs." Three times Ozzy thanked the crowd for helping Sharon get through her current medical ordeal, and, as Ratliff finally concedes, Ozzy can still hit the high notes and "most important," the reviewer writes, "he lived up to his television persona."

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