Meat Loaf at The O2, London

April 11, 2013

In Meat Loaf’s second song ‘Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back’ he is already keeling over and struggling to complete whole lines. Patti Russo, his backing vocalist, comes to his rescue on the next track (‘Dead Ringer For Love’) as she duets with him and papers over some of the cracks in his vocals where necessary. It won’t be the last time she is needed throughout the set.

It’s highly believable that The Loaf will collapse, and possibly die, in front of our eyes tonight. He’s said that this is his last tour, and we think that may be a wise move. How on Earth is he going to finish the whole 2 hour set?

Thankfully, as he warms up and settles into a groove his form picks up. It still takes every ounce of strength for him to keep going through some of the faster numbers, but what’s a Meat Loaf gig if the man isn’t pushing himself to the very limit of his physical ability? He seems keen to impress with recent tracks ‘Los Angeloser’ and ‘The Giving Tree’, they are treated to hefty video production and show that he can do more than just Bat stuff.

The first half of the show closed with the rapturously received ‘Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are’ and ‘Out of yhe Frying Pan (And into the Fire).’ The former was delivered while sitting on a barstool, and being able to sit down for a bit noticably improved Loaf’s voice as he managed to nail some impressive notes.

Just as the show had an intermission, so will this review. Here’s our favourite song from the first half.

After a short intermission came the real highlight of the night, the Bat Out of Hell album in its entirety. The arena rose to its feet for the album’s titular operatic opening and a previously polite crowd was pumping a serious amount of fists. To be honest, as long as Meat does this song well nobody will care about patchier parts in other places. Luckily, the interval and significantly long musical passages mean that he’s able to tackle the song well amidst the backdrop of a giant inflatable bat, presumably of hellacious origin.

The album is interspersed with short interview clips from prominent figures on the album, and Jim Steinman is given a warm applause before his name has even appeared. Whether it was planned this way or not, the loud-quiet-loud-quiet-loud-quiet order of the songs on the rest of the album gets the best out of the big man. Watching him pouring his heart out on a stool before a song is just as engaging as seeing him tearing across the stage like an operatic wrecking ball.

After a particularly moving rendition of ‘For Crying Out Loud’, The Loaf leaves the stage before an abbreviated version of ‘I’d Do Anything For Love’ begins the encore. The show finishes with Hang Cool Teddy Bear’s ‘Boneyard’, which included the solo from ‘Free Bird’ because… well, that doesn’t need an explanation.

Bat Out Of Hell re-entered the UK chart this week at number 9, which was it’s chart position back in 1978 as well. While telling us this Meat made the point that this album wasn’t just widely adored, it was also vehemently hated by a lot of people. In acknowledging this, Meat points out that at least they managed to make them passionate. A fair point to make on a night where passion and the love for what he does managed to pull a 65 year-old big man through a 2 hour Rock spectacular.

It wasn’t always graceful, and there are better singers out there nowadays. But if you put half as much heart as this into any performance as Marvin Lee Aday did last night, you’ll be doing alright.

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