Meat Loaf @ Sheffield Arena (15/01/04)

I had to go and see Mr Loaf for two reasons:

1) I'd never seen him before and had always had a certain admiration for the big fella

2) This tour was unexpectedly post-poned after Meat Loaf experienced heart problems just before xmas. I had a horrible feeling I wouldn't get another a chance to experience the bloated rock legend.

So, the shows were put back a few weeks/months and I took this opportunity to buy tickets which someone else couldn't re-arrange for.

Meat made his stage entrance on a hospital bed with a sheet over him and with two nurses pushing him. It's amazing that he can joke about his near-death experience so soon after! Then, there was swirling mist and some kind of spooky voice-over and he came alive! Magic.

Meat and his well-oiled band played all his hits with the exception of Two Out of Three Aint Bad (sadly). I won't try and provide a set list. Suffice is to say he played all the old favourites choosing to encore with Bat out of Hell and I Would Do Anything for Love (which included his vocal partner, Patti Russo, ascending into the skies on a large sofa!)

Meat took pleasure in often slowing songs down or pausing them altogether to tell some anecdote. I suppose he felt he was adding value to his songs and let's face it if you sing the same songs year in year out it makes sense to shake it up a little bit. Some members of the crowd were not so forgiving shouting "Get on with it!" etc.

During You Took the Words Right Out of my Mouth (I think it was this song), he noticed one member of the audience a few rows back from the front wasn't singing along like the rest of us and promptly silenced the band and plunged into the audience to remedy the situation. The poor bloke was made to sing a line from the chorus, unaccompanied into the microphone before the show was allowed to continue. There was a stalemate for a couple of minutes with Meat's victim refusing to do so. After some encouragement (which included Meat kissing the man's wife and the threat that 'we aint goin nowhere 'til you sing that line') the helpless man finally gave in and mumbled the line into Meat's mic.

And on it went.

Meat gave his all. Some reviews I read after the show seemed to be saying that his all wasn't enough, that he struggled to hit lots of notes and that he should step down and let someone else such as The Darkness fill his rock-opera shoes. I have to disagree. I enjoyed every minute of the show. He even played guitar for the first few songs which came as quite a surprise. The music industry definitely still has a space (or two!) for Meat Loaf even if he is still regurgitating hits from previous decades.

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