“After reading a few articles, and watching a few clips, I’m a little worried about seeing Meat Loaf next week. Rumour has it that he will be bloody awful.” – Me.
After all, it long been known that he had damaged his vocal chords from belting with poor technique and subsequent poor health, and that is voice had suffered greatly. A reply from a relative who had had her heart broken when her beloved Mr Loaf put on a bad performance, really did not keep my hopes up – “if he is sober there MAY be a chance he is OK but the chances are he will be bloody awful! Sorry!”. Oh dear.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was expecting, because the standard of Meat Loaf’s voice had taken a nosedive since he bellowed and screamed ‘Bat Out of Hell’ in the late 1970s. His throat was in total tatters. So why on earth did I want to go to this show? One of his compilation albums Hits Out of Hell was one of my absolute favourite listens as a child, and as it was announced that this would be Meat Loaf’s final tour, entitled Last at Bat. I took the plunge and decided that Dad and I had to be there, to see the man in person, no matter what state he was in. Meat would have to be in a truly embarrassing state for me to be disappointment.
So, if I left the venue shouting “I WANT MY MONEY BACK!”, would it be because he’d hammered that song into my skull, or would I just want a refund? As it turned out, I was very glad that I went to this, and he didn’t sound as atrocious as I had feared, albeit sounding in a bit of pain. That said, he had a sizeable band behind him with his ‘damsel’ lead female vocalist Patti Russo, and four backing vocalists to help him along. Russo undeniably saved some moments while Meat was panting and sweaty.
The show opened with various well known tracks, then after an interval, his seminal album Bat Out of Hell in its entirety. Meat broke down in tears thanking the crowd on a couple of occasions. One would have thought that it was his last ever show, or his first show since being found not guilty in a wildly publicised court case – gushing over the crowd supporting him all the way and forgiving him for his shortcomings now and over the years. The show made a point of it being a closure to his live performance days with several documentary clips on the screen between tracks.
My favourite part of the show was their performance of ‘Paradise By the Dashboard Light’, during which two giant inflatable college students appeared (similarly a giant bat was inflated during ‘Bat Out of Hell’). With a song so tongue-in-cheek, there wasn’t really anyway that it could have gone wrong. The low point was probably the performance of ‘Object in the Rear View Mirror My Appear Closer Than They Are’. The song is infamously very repetitive. Its long title is repeated seventeen times throughout the track (which true to Jim Steinman’s ‘Wagnerian’ style, is ten minutes long). As Meat’s voice wasn’t sounding strong, and it was left somewhat exposed because most of the instrumentation of the chorus is quite subdued, I was a bit concerned about what was to come. My father joked afterwards “I wonder what that song was called”.
I also got hold of a nice souvenir. T-shirt cannons were fired, and my father managed to catch one. At last moment, I managed to stop him from throwing it away, as he didn’t know what it was. It’s become a regular pyjama top. I sleep with Meat Loaf, even though Patti Russo wouldn’t.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.