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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The View From The Back Of The Room: Meat Loaf

Meatloaf: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff


So the Neverland Express makes last stop in the UK after few cancelled shows it was all or nothing for this final show on the UK leg of the Last At Bat Tour. Luckily this is Meat Loaf who despite advancing years and declining health will never give less than 100%. This was all Meat for two hours. With an intro tape of The Beatles When I'm 64 its clear that Meat Loaf doesn't take himself seriously and is quite aware that to still be selling out venues at this age is a feat. The first song was from the newest album Hell In A Handbasket and opened the show with the hard rock gusto of Runnin For The Red Light (I've Got A Life) before it segued into Life Is A Lemon with its primal cry of "I want my money back!” For these first two tracks the sound was muddy (par for the course in the Motorpoint) but it cleared up as the piano and sax led rock and roller Dead Ringer For Love got the audience clapping and singing along with aplomb, the hard rocking continued with If It Ain't Broke Break It and the modern classic of Los Angeloser. Mr Aday still has a powerful voice although not as good as it used to be however he still gives 110% in his performances making sure that the pomp is ramped up to its full. He is also backed by a superb band with long-time associates guitarist Paul Crook, drummer John Miceli and vocalist Patti Russo (who has more costumes changes than an entire West End show!) it's his band that save the missed notes on many occasions and keep your spirits high throughout. Then it was time for the final three tracks from the first set, first was the newer track The Giving Tree which is a great ballad with a rocky end but pales in comparison to the soaring reflective super ballad Objects In The Rearview Mirror... before the almost train-like chug of Out Of The Frying Pan (and Into The Fire) and with a flash of colour the first part was over, the screens that had been broadcasting images throughout interspersed with the original music videos faded to black with the words "Intermission" followed by "Next...Bat Out Of Hell".

Yes Meatloaf and Jim Steinman's seminal debut album in its entirety and while the songs were spaced out with excerpts from the "Behind The Music" special, the songs themself still packed the punch they did back in 1977. From the opening keys of the title track through its 9 minute runtime the crowd were in awe singing along with every line before clapping along to the vocal break in You Took The Words... Meat then was joined by Justin Avery on piano and started to cry as he told the story of Heaven Can Wait (how genuine this was I don't know seeing as it was replicated every night, however he did seem moved) before the rock began again with All Revved Up With No Place To Go. the crowd were eating out of his hand by now fully enthralled by the magic happening on stage, on to the modified country ballad of Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad before the vaudeville duet of Paradise By The Dashboard Light and then it was time to end with the rarely aired For Crying Out Loud. When Meat introduced this track he started talking about Jim Steinman and again he began to cry (!?) but you can see why as Meat without Steinman is really not the same (as many of his albums have shown) so as the final crescendo of For Crying Out Loud the crowd were on their feet in rapturous applause. Then for the encores (not finished yet folks!) another huge cheer greeted I Would Do Anything For Love...which was followed by Boneyard a very heavy song that was a bonus track on the iTunes edition of Hang Cool Teddy Bear, the song showed off both Patti Russo's vocals but also Justin Avery (who has a great voice) and then burst into solos halfway through before adding the solo from Skynyrd's Freebird and ending in a reprise of All Revved Up... and with that it was no more the thank you’s came and went and the final tour (as yet) was all over in a standing ovation. yes he hasn't quite the voice anymore but his band compensate for this, but for entertainment purposes alone Meat Loaf is in a league of his own, not bad for a self-confessed "65 year old man with a busted knee" 10/10
   

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