Meat Loaf - Performance Review


1978 tour photo - Karla DeVito, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

I guessed that I was in for an interesting experience last week at Hammersmith Odeon when the concert started with a demonic looking character in a black leather jacket slowly peeling off leather gauntlets, while the drummer was thumping out what sounded like the beat to Ravel's Bolero.

After the rest of the band - two keyboard players, two guitarists and a bass player - had assembled and had been playing for about five minutes, on came two backing singers, followed by the grand entrance of Meat Loaf himself. Yes, Meat Loaf is a person, though the name must refer to his diet. He began stalking across the stage in his frilly dress shirt and dinner jacket, daintily holding a red silk handkerchief. Then he showed his true colors and considerable belly, when he threw off his dinner jacket and got worked up for the first number - Bat Out Of Hell - the title track from his current epic chart album (EPC 82419).

That drew great response from the packed audience and he continued with well known material, all at maximum watts, moving into the chart single You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (EPC 5980).

While the music is loud and rocking, Meat Loaf's performance is highly theatrical as he acts out several numbers, mostly with his attractive female backing singer. One told the story of a wolf preying on the girl, while another described the mayhem caused by a boy maniac killing people with a Fender guitar. In the latter, the boy is about to club his parents to death in bed when his father wakes up and says: "Son, is that any way to treat an expensive musical instrument?"

Meat Loaf left the stage at one point to allow his band to show they could really play, and they did in a series of competent solos. Meat Loaf then came back for a couple of soulful rockers in Johnny B. Goode and River Deep, Mountain High, with the singer shedding about a stone in weight if effort and perspiration are anything to go by.

Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy

Record Mirror

MEAT LOAF, Manchester Apollo

Yards of flesh. Acres of it enclosed in great wobbling mounds, wrapped around a voice that can bellow or sound sweet as a pussy cat.

1978 tour photo - Meat Loaf in Manchester

Punters have always been impressed by animated grossness, loving the guy who has the nerve to heave his vast girth on stage. Fatty Arbuckle before he started jumping on young ladies (see the book "Hollywood Babylon"), Oliver Hardy and now Meat Loaf.

It was a sell out crowd at the Apollo, ticket sales probably helped along by Meat's exposure on the wheezing "Old Grey Whistle Test".

He's fat but he's agile, somersaulting like a hairless gorilla across the stage, foaming at the mouth and lusting after his assistant Karla. Away from the theatrics, you get an indication of how good his voice is when he throws the mic away and fills the auditorium with just the power of his vocal cords.

Obviously the set was largely dependant on the debut "Bat Out Of Hell" album, renowned for its Phil Spector influences. I thought the floods of sound might suffer being transferred to the stage. But the instruments didn't become thin and the music was precise, filling out the shallows well.

The lighting resembled something from a gothic morgue especially on "Bat Out Of Hell", so that Meat loomed large like a thirties horror character.

Meat revels in himself, but in no way does the show get too heavy (if you'll pardon the expression). There's always an element of humour that rings throughout the songs. An injection of funny lines to make in tongue in cheek black comedy.

But Meat can have you crying with ballads when he treads wearily across the stage. A desperate tubby lover giving it one more final shot before calling it a day.

On a damp soggy night Manchester loved him.