Rock and Pop: When dinosaurs walked the stage

Say what you like about knowingly ludicrous, 50-year-old heavy- rock gargantuans, but they didn't get where they are today without knowing how to put on a show. Meat Loaf's latest tour could have done with a bigger special effects budget - the inflatable bat that wobbled to life for the finale was as menacing as a bouncy castle - but there were thunderclaps and dry ice aplenty, and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" was staged as a bedroom farce, with Loaf in a tuxedo and Patti Russo, his duettist, in a wedding dress. Meat Loaf is nothing if not a ham.

He had already starred in productions of Hair and The Rocky Horror Show, back in the early 1970s, before Jim Steinman wrote Bat Out Of Hell for him. Steinman, more recently Andrew Lloyd Webber's lyricist, had a theatrical background, too, and Bat is really just a musical on vinyl. It's a very clever homage to the archetypes of high-school rock'n'roll, somehow linking motorbikes, cars, girls, the beach and Phil Spector-style bubblegum pop with two of Steinman's other obsessions: Peter Pan and Wagnerian opera. Meat Loaf was cast as a larger-than-life, adolescent misfit, halfway between Pavarotti and Jerry Lee Lewis. It's a role he's still playing.

His current tour promotes a new Very Best Of album, but the fact is that "The Very Best Of Meat Loaf" was released over 20 years ago and called Bat Out Of Hell. Loaf has tried for much of his career to recreate that original masterpiece - most blatantly on 1993's Bat Out Of Hell II - but it's been as futile as writing Hair II or The Rocky Horror Show II. Like Loaf's other dramatic roles, Bat Out Of Hell was a one-off. And on Tuesday, it was all too plain that most of the post-Bat songs lack the original's wit and - believe it or not - snappiness: they are inferior sequels to a blockbuster movie.

Nowadays, one of the buxom rock-chick backing vocalists is Loaf's daughter, and he has cut his hair short (to quote the title of his new single: is nothing sacred?). But he's still stuck in the part which Dr Franken-Steinman created for him long ago. Imagine if David Bowie, say, were still being Ziggy Stardust: the Bat is an albatross.

Towards the end of the concert, the band lined up on stools for an "Unplugged" segment, and had a bash at the Rolling Stones's "Honky Tonk Woman", Prince's "1999", and Loaf's own "Midnight at the Lost and Found", a Southern truckstop groove which is notable for not being Steinman-like. Loaf seemed so relieved to ease off with material that wasn't straining to be epic that it seemed a shame he hadn't done so a decade or two earlier. He could have tried country or soul or blues - or better yet, concentrated on the theatre and his sporadic film career. This may seem an odd thing to say after a two-and-a-bit hour show of 10-minute songs sung by a man who has shifted 50 million albums ... but Meat Loaf has been selling himself short.

We don't need to have any such concerns about Kiss's unfulfilled potential. Their music has never been better than primitive, and if they hadn't hit on the idea of dressing up as intergalactic superheroes, it's likely that their tinny trash rock would have long been forgotten. So you can't blame Kiss's stalwarts, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, for ditching the band's newer members a few years ago, reinstating the founding 1970s line- up, putting their costumes and make-up back on and pretending that the previous decade never happened. Not even black-and-white Hallowe'en greasepaint can fully disguise Kiss's age, though. Stanley is in enviable shape for a man half his age, and shows off that shape by performing topless. But the knock-kneed Ace Frehley sags under the weight of his Flash Gordon epaulettes, and Simmons's spiked rhinoceros armour seems designed to hide his torso's state of repair.

Are Kiss just a cabaret act now? Are they in it for the money? Well, yes on both counts - but what's new? It's a wide-open secret that Kiss's primary raison d'etre was always the acquisition of money, with the acquisition of groupies finishing a close second. The question is whether they earn their money and whether their cabaret act is any good. And on Thursday's evidence, Kiss are not just unsurpassed in the field of pyrotechnic rock panto, they're also unsurpassable. They spew blood, they breathe fire, their guitars fire rockets and belch smoke. Before "King of the Night Time World", Frehley's guitar flies to the ceiling. During "God of Thunder", Simmons takes flight, too; and then before "I Was Made For Loving You", the whole drum-kit levitates. What is there left for the hedonistic glam-metal behemoths of the future to accomplish?

As for the money, Kiss could have left out one of the flying stunts, two of the three video screens, a couple of flame-throwers, a dozen fireworks, half of the confetti bombs, and the whole of their latest gimmick - 3D glasses, no less - and they'd still have made Marilyn Manson seem like a shoegazing indie band rehearsing in a shed. But Kiss didn't stint, and special effect followed special effect, right up to the end. Over the top? Oh yes. Over the hill? Never!

Meat Loaf: Wembley Arena, 0181 900 1234, tonight, Tue & Thurs; Cardiff International Arena, 01222 224488, Fri; and touring.

Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Reach for the sky: there are around 250 new buildings of 20-plus storeys planned for London alone, some 80 per cent of them residential
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
filmReview: The ingenious film will intrigue, puzzle and trouble audiences by turns
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower