(State Theatre, Detroit, MI – Dec. 12th ’02)
Watching Meat Loaf lumber onstage, his face rippled in perspiration, both his black shirt and black pants already showing sweat pools, it’s hard to believe that all he’s done is walk out on stage ! Yet, that is exactly the extent of his labors for the moment, but as he noticeably limps his way across the stage; prowling it like some caged animal ready to break its leash and maul, you know deep down inside that things are about to get a lot wetter for the stout Texan.
Hammering out an opening beat from his front center solo drum, it’s not long before his constant yelps are married along with the two female backing singers’ and the first song of the night is brought forth in the shape of, ’Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back’. This is quickly followed by the long and hulking vocal grappler, ’Testify’ in which Marvin Lee Aday stretches out an already long song in such a manner that it very nearly needed an interval scheduled at its midway point ! Now sweating like a man possessed, Meat Loaf chugs his way through the song in his most theatrical of demeanors, even juggling singing personas to include a Southern Baptist Minister !
Throughout the entire ninety minutes, Meat Loaf never fails to take his foot off the pedal. His songs are incredibly operatic, his own personal stage persona larger than life, and yet there are times he just looks plain tired; just like he’d rather be anywhere but up there on stage. But on the stage in front of a packed house he is and so, broken toe and all, Marvin makes the best of things and belts out everything from ’I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ to an acoustic ’Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad’ and ’Tear It Down’ from ‘Hedwig And The Angry Inch’ through to the full monty version of ’Paradise By The Dashboard Light.’
And the theatrics don’t stop with the music either, as I personally found out ! Sitting front row, dead center with my girlfriend this very night, Meat Loaf brought the music to a halt and made up a comical skit about how a lady in the front row – actually “chosen” by the incredibly talented guitarist, Kasim Sulton - had just asked him to sing a song ….. that she mistakenly thought to be his, but wasn’t ! This lady was, of course, my girlfriend and that soon led to the big guy chatting away with me, removing me from my seat down a few chairs to try and find “someone more suited” to me and then, a full four minutes later, bringing me back again to retake my previously-vacated spot. Then it was time for him to sing her ’Monie Monie’ and follow it up with a spur of the moment choice that few knew the words to on stage, the Joan Jett rocker ’I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’. He also made it abundantly clear all night that having broken his toe the night before, he wasn’t happy and that his shoe wasn’t going to be on much longer. It wasn’t as with half an hour to go, the shoe was removed and his bare, swollen foot was brought kicking and screaming into the limelight !
But, that wasn’t the only unexpected thing brought into the limelight as one of these backing singers was none other than one of his daughters, Pearl ! Dressed as if she had just finished work in an upper-class French brothel, Pearl was given the chance to shine as she sang her choice of a blues song to the enthralled crowd. Rather like the LeAnn Rimes of old; with an added bust line, Pearl cranked out the warbling notes for the entire pleasure of the audience and was warmly received soon thereafter by the near standing ovation.
Songs like the always impressive ’All Revved Up With No Place To Go’ and ’For Crying Out Loud’ also played out to the baying hordes, not to mention the classic ’You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summers Night)’. Meat Loaf may have been in great pain, but he never once allowed it to slow him down. With the powerful rock-opera ’Bat Out Of Hell’ rounding off what was – aside from the MIA ’Dead Ringer’ - quite possibly one of the most powerful greatest hits sets of the year, Meat Loaf unsportingly; yet understandably denied us any encores. The show was over, it was time to go home, and yet round the back of the venue, the towel-shrouded figure that limped its way onto the tour bus still had enough energy to have memorabilia brought to him to sign for the patiently waiting, and extremely cold fans ! What a night ! What a guy !
Reviewed by Russell A. Trunk