Meat Loaf: Last at Bat Tour, O2 Arena, London
Thursday 11 April 2013
Meat Loaf staggers, hunched and panting, around the stage like a wounded hog. It's disquieting and to start with the burly singer, perspiring profusely, is more like a hedgehog out of hell for his farewell tour. However, with the considerable assistance of his brassy “backing” singer Patti Russo, a willing audience - there are lifetime Loafers here, with T-shirts to prove it - and some sensational, Jim Steinman created soft-rock ballads the 65-year-old showman pulls through.
Six years ago Meat Loaf appeared to be a spent musical force, retreating off stage in Newcastle after an hour's performance with “Ladies and gentlemen, I love you, thank you for coming, but I can no longer continue.” In his turbulent career the Texan has broken his legs, had a knee replaced, undergone heart surgery and has been diagnosed with a cyst on his vocal cords. No wonder his voice cracks with emotion (“It became your album, not mine”) before “For Crying Out Loud” towards the end. It's emotional and as Meat Loaf's damaged character, Bob, in Fight Club would have it: “Go ahead, Cornelius, you can cry.”
Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, has never shied away from the big emotions. His bestselling album, Bat Out of Hell (43 million sales and counting), which is played in its entirety in the second half of this show, is all about love, lust and loss. The record, with its seven epic, rock-opera songs, would make the perfect musical, and Meat Loaf, armed with his trademark red hanky, appears to have saved his exhausted pipes for these tracks. The audience help out on “Bat Out of Hell”, Russo does a lot of the heavy lifting on the stupendous “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)” and the Meat pulls it together for the suitably histrionic “Two Out of Three Ain't Bad”. For “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” we're not only “treated” to Meat Loaf groping Russo but to a huge and lewd inflatable doll.
It all makes up for a saggy first half that was mainly redeemed by the wildly OTT “Objects in the Rear Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are” and Russo single-handedly saving the exquisitely sleazy “Dead Ringer for Love”.
Meat Loaf, with his silver medallion swishing, attacks his final great song/bout, “I Would Do Anything for Love”, like a punch drunk but determined pugilist. The Loaf abides and, as Elton John would have it, he's still standing, well, hunching.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove