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Chris High reviews: Books, Movies, Albums, Theatre and Gigs.

Liverpool Big Top Arena
July 18th, 2005

Meat Loaf in concert 2005

There are seminal albums in this world; Dark Side Of The Moon, Thriller, A Night At The Opera - all classics of their genre. Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell sits alongside them very nicely thank you (one of only two albums never to have dropped from the top 200 since its release) and still garners much praise from its peers, twenty-eight years after its release.

But let's start at the beginning. Unusually, the support band are going to get a mention. Hurricane Party, a five piece Rock act, parodied everything clichéd in the world of metal in their show - the ubiquitous arm raising, the drummer twirling and throwing drumsticks, the lead guitarist playing the thing behind his head, the legs splayed / head bent posing - had one major saving grace …they were fantastic! Richie Hevanz (surely a stage name) possesses such a strong voice that he could carry the Justin Hawkins theatrics, including a sprint around the entire arena, with great mastery. Whereas the bass of Rob Randell churned the stomach with its raw power, backed ably by Chris Rivers on drums. Scene setters one and all, to the point that the queue for their CD at Merchandise almost outgrew that of the main attraction during the interval. Special mention should also go to guitarist Robin Hirshfield. Christ on a bike, can this bloke play or what? It's been a long, long time since there has been anybody so enthusiastically impressive playing in the Big Top and other up and coming guitarists should take note of the name, as it's definitely one for the future.

So on with the show and, at precisely 9:00 pm the big guy sauntered onto stage looking so much better than he'd done twelve months earlier after his heart scare, to grab his guitar, mike stand and trademarked red silk handkerchief.
Sadly, however, the first three songs were drowned out by a dodgy microphone, which spoiled the entrance and irritated the star no end. It irritated the audience, too. The second of these would have been a high voltage version of Black Betty, judging by the music, but all was lost as Meat Loaf could barely be heard.

By song four though, the equipment was back on track and Dead Ringer was hammered out with great pantomime flair. That's the thing with a Meat Loaf gig. He doesn't just get up and sing he re-enacts the whole song with a style that makes for superb entertainment and total crowd control is his to do with as he pleases.
There is also the fact that Meat Loaf doesn't do three-minute songs. They are all mini-operas that run and run. Out Of The Frying Pan ran for well over fifteen minutes, with a guitar solo that outdid matched anything else performed on the night.

Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth came hot on its heels, with the crowd singing along the repeated title line. That is until the big guy spotted somebody in the crowd not singing and made him universally unpopular with the 4,800 sell out crowd. "How can you not be singing? Are you on leave from a mental institution?" then, with a chorus of boos for the paying customer, Meat Loaf looked him in the eye and said "They don't like you very much, do they?"

There is a new album out - Bat Out Of Hell III - in 2006. Only Hurts When I Feel It was duly sung, followed on by the partying All Revved Up from the original Bat Out Of Hell album.

Then the highlight of the evening - Paradise By The Dashboard Light. A song in three parts, this has now become a play in its own right, with Meat enacting the role of lustful youth turned cynical, ensnared husband, with a gusto and enthusiasm that is breathtaking. Patricia Russo's amazing voice is superb as the acting Temptress of the song, and her voice is very much 'the gravy' that is needed to make Meat sound so good.

Time to slow down for Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad before picking up the tempo again with I Would Do Anything For Love.

Meat Loaf paid tribute to his band, all of whom played their part superbly well in making this a show to remember, by calling them the "Best damn rock band in the world. I don't care what they say, this is the best damn rock band in the world." And on this showing, well, he's entitled to his point of view.

The opening strains of Bat Out Of Hell itself sent the audience into hysteria land and, no matter how many times it is listened to, the song still gets the hairs on the back of the neck rising.

This was a pure, unadulterated rock show that had the sprinkling of seasoning that add that final touch of classy spice to such events; a band that enjoy themselves, an audience up for creating the right atmosphere (even those dressed as though attending a Showaddywaddy gig - I kid you not. There were also a number of Meat Loaf impersonators about too, which was really quite scary) and a star honed to professional excess.

He may be getting on, but Meat Loaf can still rock and roll with the best of them.



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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