Who wants Meat Loaf in a time of BSE?

ROCK

THE FILM montage which preceded Meat Loaf's entrance at Manchester Arena on Wednesday told you to expect debauchery and perversion in the extreme. What it didn't warn you about was the really shocking stuff - the shrill guitar solos, and the enormous blow-up doll with breasts like two small planets; the inflatable vampire bat, and the tiny mock-up Chevrolet which unhappily recalled the Stonehenge episode from This is Spinal Tap. If Lionel Blair and someone who used to be in Home and Away had wandered on stage, it could have been a smashing pantomime. But as a rock gig it left something to be desired. Namely desire.

The show kicked off with "Where the Rubber Meets the Road", a rollicking lament for a pre-Aids era, and the best track from one of Meat Loaf's worst albums, Welcome to the Neighbourhood (Virgin). With its stuttering rhythm section and the gospel-tinged vocals of rock'n'rollerskating Patti Russo, it was a rousing opener. But the sense of caution in the lyrics ("Yes means no means yes means no," complains Meat, all of a tizzy) infected the rest of the set, and you sensed an uncharacteristic restraint about this master of American excess.

It wasn't all Meat's fault. His songs last longer than most people's careers; as such, they demand to be interpreted by musicians who have passion to match their proficiency, who are inventive rather than inert. It wasn't so. The band ended up being thrashed in the charisma stakes by the inflatable vampire bat.

And if Meat's voice was rough enough to turn "Life is a Lemon" sour, then his memory was sometimes even rougher: when he sang the wrong lyrics to "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", he started cursing and flapping and generally acting like he was a few slices short of a loaf. Sadly, he remembered the words, and "Paradise... " struggled on for a hellish 27 minutes, distended by a mid-song skit in which Meat and Patti played a squabbling married couple. It was so dire that Carlton are rumoured to be developing it into a 26-part sitcom as I write.

There remained some dumb little pleasures which suggested that rock'n'roll could yet be the new comedy: the daft guitar duel between Meat and fellow axe-man Pat Thrall, for example; and some monkey business involving a pair of prosthetic legs wrapped around Meat's neck (which was his stab at Madonna-esque simulated raunchiness, not a plea for sexual equality for amputees). But he only made the earth move when he mentioned Manchester United. So how was it for me? Well, let's just put it down to experience and try again another night.

Terrorvision attracted a far smaller crowd than Meat Loaf when they played at Bristol University. But then it's what you do with your audience that counts. And these effervescent pop-metal rockers, whose jaunty new album Regular Urban Survivors (EMI) sounds like the Beach Boys duffing up Faith No More, whipped theirs into a sweat-drenched, pogoing frenzy. All without once mentioning football.

However, the mousy singer Tony Wright did mention Kafka in "Superchronic", which is a transparent way of getting critics to quote your lyrics. But the allusion has a sweet resonance, because Wright recently awoke to find himself transformed into a giant rock star. Being called an ordinary bloke might be an insult, but that's exactly what he is (only a penchant for ridiculous trousers betrays showbiz genes). He has the coarseness of a brickie about him ("This is about giving your dog something to chew on," he said before "Dog Chewed the Handle", proving that he's more literal than literary). He'd look equally at home with a trowel instead of a microphone: the first rock singer who would rather lay your patio than your daughter.

The songs are similarly innocuous, but it's the triumph of pop over pomp on "Middleman" and the recent hit "Perseverance" which makes them so easy to warm to (and so hard to wrench out of your head). With Wright playing air guitar, air drums and air glockenspiel, Terrorvision are sometimes merely Queen minus the poodle-perms, which makes them difficult to defend. But numbskull rock'n'roll can be an energising, uplifting force: it makes you lob TV sets out of windows, or at least not pay your licence fee on time.

Last in descending order of slickness is the American singer-songwriter Beck, whose ramshackle shows make Richard and Judy look professional. You go to a Beck gig for the cock-ups and the fact that you can call out any word in the English language and the chances are he'll have written a song with it in the title (though don't call out for his big hit "Loser" - he performed songs he didn't know the words to but still refused to play that). His music reaches us by way of Seattle, Nashville and Cloudcuckooland; he's a mish-mash of Dylan, Prince and Jonathan Richman, and was recording loopy 4-track albums before Baby Bird's first tweet.

Last Sunday in London it was business as usual: a fan rose to Beck's request for a human beat-box, hardly suspecting that the 10-minute rap would require him to possess lungs the size of Goodyear blimps; there was yodelling, and a stomping harmonica solo, and another which was aborted because he couldn't get the right key. You'll find more of the same on the dazzling new album O-de-Lay (Geffen), out in June. It's music for people who are proud to wear their shirt untucked.

Nicholas Barber is on holiday.

Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue