Pop Live: The raw and the overcooked

MEAT LOAF

BIRMINGHAM NEC

AMERICAN MUSIC biz executives recently launched the Diamond award, a new certification for truly mega-selling records. With 13 million units shifted in the United States alone, Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell, the most successful debut album of all time, sits nicely alongside the likes of Garth Brooks, Pink Floyd, Journey and Maria Carey.

Unlike Bat's composer Jim Steinman, Marvin Lee Aday, the Meat in the Loaf, has struggled to transcend the original masterwork. Fittingly enough, Meat - as he insists on being called - starts his current "Very Best Of" tour with a strong version of "No Matter What", the song the dastardly Boyzone weren't supposed to release before he got his hands on it. Perched atop a fake stone throne, the singer looks like Frodo from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (that saga is the equivalent of Bat in the cultural zeitgeist).

Having eaten Ronan Keating for starters, Meat then straps on a guitar and powerchords into "Life is a Lemon and I Want my Money Back".

The chutzpah and the cheek of the singer and his band are undeniable as they launch into the crunchy riff of "Dead Ringer for Love". Patti Russo makes a fine posturing job of the duet, while the musicians hint at the seminal "Jenny Take a Ride" by the Sixties garage-band Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

As my mind drifts into a million lateral thoughts, the grand piano chimes the bombast of "I'd do Anything for Love (But I Won't do That)". The song builds and builds with reprised choruses and every single instrument stressing the dramatic chord changes. Not for Meat Loaf the medley approach (more's the pity), but rather a full-scale collision of grand opera, heavy metal and stage musicals as the gum-chewing singer modulates the final "I won't do that" a la Pavarotti.

During "Rock'n'Roll Dreams Come Through", he shakes like a demented preacher - but his gospel is from the psychobabble school of Jerry Springer or Dr Ruth. Indeed, after the pure Eurovision kitsch of "Is Nothing Sacred?", Meat and Patti act out the soap operetta scenario of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light".

The Phil Spector manque and the Frankensteinesque Springsteen of the music are greatly improved by the panto goings-on. The star, in a dinner- jacket, and the game Russo as the all-in-white one-night-stand bride are pure corn, but their routine is suddenly hampered by a malfunctioning glittery curtain refusing to fold and drop as expected.

I'd promised myself not to mention the infamous Spinal Tap but Meat's skilful ad libs - "First your big mouth, now my curtain won't fall! I'm just gonna stand in the middle of it!" - show the extent of his acting ability as he salutes and milks the applause before chastising the stage manager.

After that wonderful impromptu moment, the Unplugged-style encore of Bat material doesn't feel as genuine, while the enormous bat dangling above Meat just raises a giggle.

Too often, the platitudes disguised as profundities of "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" feel like a sound-track crying out for a high-concept blockbuster.

Meat Loaf, who, as an actor, has now starred opposite Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith and Brad Pitt, truly belongs on the big screen. Let's see him in Beauty & The Beast: The Musical!

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks