Saturday, December 12, 2009

Meatloaf - February 10, 1994

Every Saturday, The Rock and Roll Guru gives a comprehensive review of a live concert.

I was only able to see Meatloaf live once in my life. My friend Special Ed actually won tickets on the radio. Who does that? That was the luck of Special Ed. Of course, he had no car and no way to get to the show. So, he offered me a deal. If I drove and handled parking, the ticket was mine. It sounded like a great deal to me, so I happily accepted his offer. It was only after my acceptance that I learned the seats were in the third row. This would be the closest I had ever been to the stage before.

The Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a small theater that holds approximately 6,000 people. It was a change of pace from where I had been seeing concerts and a nice one. A small, intimate venue, I just knew the acoustics were going to be incredible. Add in the fact that we were sitting in the third row with aisle seats, and well, it just couldn’t get much better than that.

I don’t recall if anyone actually opened for Meatloaf on this night. I know Special Ed and I were both excited and the seats were incredible. Meatloaf had assembled a great backup band for this world tour that would last more than two years. Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell was a highly well received album, critics and fans alike loved it, and although he had never really gone anywhere, everyone touted this as Meatloaf’s comeback album.

The night began with the all too familiar opening piano twill of I Would Do Anything For Love, and the crowd roared! Slowly, Meatloaf made his way to center stage. Dressed like a prince from the romantic era, Meatloaf took the microphone and wowed us all with his incredible voice. He still had the power to sing like no other. Playing songs from only the Bat Out Of Hell albums, this was a concert with no filler. Bat Out Of Hell is one of the greatest albums in rock history and Bat Out Of Hell II is a solid and worthy sequel.

The female singer he hired to do the live duets with him was not only beautiful but she had a voice that was equally amazing. I don’t know her name, but I know she could sing and she brought it from the opening number of I Would Do Anything… just amazing.

One interesting observation was the number of younger fans in attendance. Approximately half of the audience couldn’t have been more than 5 when the first Bat Out Of Hell was released, ourselves included. There were a lot of high school students at the show, and it was pleasing to see the diversity of fans that Meatloaf had. Ranging from their 40s all the way to teenage years, Meatloaf was showing his ability to be timeless. His subject matter spoke to fans old and new.

Memorable songs performed included Life Is A Lemon which we sang out as loud as we could, I Would Do Anything…, Rock And Roll Dreams Come True, Heaven Can Wait, Bat Out of Hell, and of course, Paradise By The Dashboard Light.

Paradise was the big show stopper, the final song of the night (although there may have been an encore, I don’t quite recall) and it was AMAZING. Done note for note, album perfect, Meatloaf and company blew us away. The entire audience leapt to their feet on the first all too familiar guitar riff that opens this epic song. For the segue in the middle, Phil Rizzuto’s voice recording used on the album was piped in over the house speakers until the infamous scream of “Stop right there!” The interplay between Meatloaf and his onstage female cohort was fun to watch as they played up the themes of the song.

In an amazing display of theatrics, musical style, and grace, Meatloaf delivered a magical performance that captivated us all for the two hours the show lasted. I left the Stabler Arena with much more respect for Meatloaf than when I entered. He gave his all for his art. His performance was magnificent, and although I have never see him in concert since, I was very impressed by what he had done.

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