Friday, March 2, 2007
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Review and All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
I must admit right up front that my knowledge of Meat Loaf’s music does not extend beyond his three BAT OUT OF HELL albums but fortunately, his current tour focuses exclusively on the mega-selling, unholiest-named of rock & roll trilogies. The first entry is second only to Michael Jackson’s THRILLER as the biggest-selling album of all time, each of the seven songs driven into the collective rock consciousness through thirty years of wanton over-exposure. The second chapter, released in 1993, and admired by many as Meat Loaf’s phoenix-like ascendancy out of obscurity is not as legendary but still came packed with its share of hits. Last year’s BAT OUT OF HELL III: THE MONSTER IS LOOSE closes the book on Meat Loaf’s best-known work and this current run of dates, dubbed the “Seize The Night Tour,” is as big, brash and melodramatic as the 59-year old singer/actor himself (who can forget his role in FIGHT CLUB as Bob “Bitch Tits” Paulson?!).
The massive stage set-up—fully utilized by Meat and his eight-piece backing band, The Neverland Express—was draped with a three-panel backdrop illustrated with, not surprisingly, the cover art of the three BAT OUT OF HELL albums. The simple black-and-white decorating theme ran from the piano, mike stands, steps and drum riser (*insert joke about the salt-and-pepper hair color of the aging Baby Boomer crowd here*) with the only exception being Meat’s trademark red scarf tied to his mike stand at centre stage. The 2 ½ hour set was split into two sections: the first half exclusively covering the first two albums, followed by a ten-minute intermission and a second set of material drawn heavily from the new album. The Vancouver date was only the fourth show of this tour and as the band, inexplicably adorned in NFL football jerseys, hit the stage with a truncated version of “All Revved Up With No Place To Go” after a video screen collage of Meat’s musical career, the energy was at a peak. Segueing right into the crowd-favourite, “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” a sea of clapping hands and dancing feet echoed through the venue. But it was the appearance of Aspen Miller, one of Meat’s background vocalists, and the accompanying sound of men’s jaws dropping, where things really heated up. The stunning Miller, clad in red short shorts, white knee-high stripper boots and a revealing top, took the role of Ellen Foley’s original answer vocals, but it was the ham-fisted acting that was a real delight. Meat, looking on in faux shock at the crowd as this lithe sexpot half his age grinded against and later jumped him, created a performance that was as much rock opera theatre as it was music. This continued on with a show-stopping roast of an innocent fellow who Meat felt was not singing enough during “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Nights).” Miller’s elegant duet on “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” was awe-inspiring with the only real downside to the first half being the never-ending version of “Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are” (ironically, the second favourite song of Meat’s career, according to the singer).
A ten-minute intermission was capped by a video montage of Meat’s film career backed by a recorded version of “Alive” from BAT OUT OF HELL III. The new tracks fare well live, their only shortcomings being the utter lack of familiarity after hearing the near-canonized material from the first two albums. “The Monster Is Loose” benefits from even greater bombast than the album version and the R&B-influence is felt in the groove of “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It.” This track even featured ten-storey high balloon replicas of the band members that “danced” to the beat of the music. “Blind As A Bat,” perhaps the best new song of the bunch, was also thankfully given the live treatment. It all built to a feverish pitch, though, as the guitar feedback of Paul Crook (ex-Anthrax) ripped into “Bat Out of Hell.” The piano of Mark Alexander and Dave Luther’s sax licks really added to the vibe of this timeless classic, too.
For his encore, Meat brought out Marion Raven, the opening act on the tour, for a duet on “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” from BAT OUT OF HELL III, a song written by Meat’s musical partner, Jim Steinman, and made popular by Celine Dion in 1996. Raven, a former Norwegian teen pop star, has a dark, enchanting voice that complements Meat’s and the two singers blend well vocally. Picking the energy up again, “Life Is A Lemon and I Want My Money Back” barrelled through with a rollicking rock beat and hard-edged background vocals by Miller, Luther, Alexander, C.C. Coletti and bassist Kasim Sulton. Miller and Coletti, decked out with bat wings, demonstrated they are real assets to Meat’s band as their smooth but powerful vocals really enrich the songs in the live setting. Closing with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” the women let loose their inner divas by belting out the great whoops and hollers of Merry Clayton on the original.
Considering many of his contemporaries have since given up on music or are pandering to the casino circuit, it was surprising to see almost 5,000 people turn up for Meat Loaf’s show. The man’s voice is beginning to strain at points and his years are definitely catching up to him but for entertainment value, Meat Loaf is still top-drawer. Steinman’s epic, sprawling songs are ageless and while his fanbase certainly is not, Meat Loaf’s music will be enjoyed by several more generations to come. Sixty-year old couples danced in the aisles, while children as young as eight were seen being piggybacked out of the venue by their parents…and each group had smiles from ear to ear. Therein lays the proof that Meat Loaf had, indeed, seized the night.
All Revved Up With No Place To Go
Paradise By The Dashboard Light
You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Nights)
Out of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)
I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through
Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
Seize The Night
The Monster Is Loose
Bad For Good
If It Ain’t Broke, Break It
Blind As A Bat
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Bat Out of Hell
~ ENCORE ~
It’s All Coming Back To Me Now
Life Is A Lemon and I Want My Money Back
Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones cover)
***Thanks to Kelli Green at House of Blues Canada for the press pass.
Meat Loaf—Official Site