In the year 2010 - can a 62-year old rocker continue to delight fans both young and old with magnum opuses (opi?) from decades gone by, wordy Jim Steinman and Steinman-esque lyrics that allow not a moment for breath, and deliver a performance worthy of his heritage?
Yes. Yes, he can.
Meat Loaf. The ubiquitous 70s rocker whose debut album, Bat Out Of Hell is still one of the best selling albums of all time (currently in fifth place worldwide at 43 million), is currently touring in support of his latest album, the Rob Cavallo produced, Hang Cool Teddy Bear. If Rob's name is familiar, think Green Day's American Idiot for starters. We're talking Rock Concert in the finest tradition: light show, video screen, pyrotechnics, large inflatables... this show did not miss a beat.
Meat (or Mr. Loaf if you prefer) opened the show simply by appearing on stage to a standing ovation and then just milked it for a few minutes by walking from one side of the stage to the other, looking out upon the audience that had assembled in the Universal City Gibson Amphitheatre. Once the music began, the opening surprise was "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show with accompanying film footage on the big LED screen behind the stage.
While new tracks were expected during the course of the evening, they were kept to a minimum and performed with enough video and lights to keep the unfamiliar interesting. And while the new tracks were hard rocking and befitting of Meat Loaf, it was the hits, after all, that the 70% capacity crowd had come to experience.
And experience them we did - "Bat Out Of Hell" (the third number performed) included enough pyro and lights to support the music and a bonus giant inflatable bat that loomed over the stage. "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" opened with an acoustic portion. The duets "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" and "Paradise By The Dashboard" were not only present, but performed perfectly by both Meat Loaf and long-time duetist, Patti Russo. Even the unexpected guitar solo from Lynyrd Skynryd's "Freebird" delighted as a wonderful musical showcase for the guitarists and led into Meat Loaf's own "Rock 'N' Roll Dreams."
Meat's connection with the audience was instantaneous and undeniable. We were standing for track after track. He took no breaks, no intermission, I didn't even see him take a sip of water. He did stop the show once during "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" and berated the audience for not singing loud enough, considering that 90% know every word. We then rose to the occasion and the show continued.
So, Meat Loaf 2010... 33 years after he exploded on the scene - worth it? Yes! A great show from a great performer.