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.
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.