Artist: Meat Loaf
Venue: Palace Theatre (New York, NY)
Label: Virgin Music
I was convinced that tonight was going to be something special from the moment that I heard about the show. The setting would be Broadway’s Palace Theatre and inside on this blustery night in New York City, the legendary Meat Loaf would perform music from all three of his “Bat Out Of Hell” albums. It’s been almost thirty years since the bombastic front man first appeared on the music scene with an album that would forever shake Rock & Roll history. Penned by Jim Steinman, “Bat Out Of Hell” was an album loaded with stories that had a tremendous Broadway aspect to them. It spawned the mega hits “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” and the fan favorite Teen Romance epic “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. The songs were radio staples back then and remain so to this very day. As a longtime fan of the recording, it would be great to experience these still fresh songs performed in such a setting. The event was sold out and a one -night only appearance and while the stage décor was limited to banners of the individual albums as banners the stage was absolutely loaded with music personnel and instruments. There was a sixteen piece strings and orchestra section, two keyboards, twin guitars, bass, drums, backup singers and of course – Meat Loaf. He arrived like a hurricane but only teased the crowd with “All Revved Up”, a song that I would have liked to hear the complete version of. Instead it was his lead in to “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, one of the mega numbers in his repertoire and I admit that I was quite surprised to find this song so early on in the show. Yet considering the main idea was to showcase the new “Bat” album it made a little sense. Meat was in terrific vocal form for someone who has been singing at the top of his lungs for as long as he has and for this song the entire audience seemed to be doing the respective parts. It was during this song that we got to meet the lovely Miss Aspen Miller. Ms. Miller is perfect for the role of Meat Loafs foil for this track and an incredible vocal talent as well. During this song she pranced around stage in a skimpy cheerleader outfit which was met with levels of approval. She has a big voice and a lot of beautiful stage presence. Aspen is surely a welcome addition to the Meat Loaf touring company.
The night would progress with a healthy sample of music from every one of the “Bat Out Of Hell” releases – the massive group featured the talents of Kasim Sulton (bass and musical director), Paul Crook (guitar), Randy Flowers (guitar), Mark Alexander (keyboards), Dave Luther (sax, and keyboards), John Miceli (drums), Aspen Miller (backup singer) & Carolyn Coletti-Jablonski (backup singer). The orchestra would be conducted by Keith Levenson and to my knowledge was made up of area musicians. Each of them performed wonderfully. Throughout the performance Meat Loaf would change into a couple of different outfits that reflected the particular songs from the varied albums and it worked for added visual effects. Everyone in the audience was there more for the music than the costume changes but it did add to the level of showmanship we were getting tonight. During the show it became quite clear about actually how many hits Meat Loaf has in his back catalog from this series of recordings. Everyone knows and accepts that the first one was extraordinary but the follow up also had its fair share of memorable numbers. Knowing the overall vibe and feel of these two left me a little surprised when the new record was showcased as there are portions on it that are harder edged than I had ever recalled Meat Loaf being. As a music fan who leans towards this side of the fence I was finding this to be an enjoyable case. Portions of the new release had not only Jim Steinman penning the course, but also contributors such as Nikki Sixx and John 5. The combined forces were definitely cause for a lot of this records edge, and on the stage they were quite powerful as we would experience in “The Monster Is Loose”. The new record also has a killer ballad in “Blind As A Bat”, which for a new song quickly had the audience singing the chorus parts once again.
Towards the end of the evening, Meat Loaf would perform the first single to be released from “Bat Out Of Hell III”. For the song “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, he would be joined by singer Marion Raven. This Norwegian siren recorded this number for the album and it was a great treat to have her do it for this special concert. Marion would remain onstage for the nights closer, a bombastic rendition of “Life Is A Lemon And I Want My Money Back”. Overall it was an amazing performance with everyone in the band company giving the goods on the highest level. There were a few cheeky moments like when the backup singers and Marion sported bat wings, but other than that it was solid throughout. I did have a little disappointment when Jim Steinman did not make any sort of appearance. I felt that a performance this important merited such a “last minute surprise guest” of his stature (at least to come out for applause if nothing else). The other part was finding the classic track “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” being omitted from performance. That really took me by surprise and if anyone left wanting it was based on this song alone as otherwise this was a show for the memory books. If he does this sort of presentation again, I highly recommend you try and attend.
1. All Revved Up – intro
2. Paradise By the Dashboard Light
3. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
4. Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)
5. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do that)
6. Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
7. The Monster Is Loose
8. Bad For Good
9. If It Ain’t Broke Break It
10. Blind As A Bat
11. Bat Out Of Hell
12. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now
13. Life Is A Lemon and I Want My Money Back