My review of a 1989 Meat Loaf concert

On Monday, April 24th, Meat Loaf took the stage at CW Post like a bat out of hell and proved to fans and skeptics alike that he remains one of the most powerful forces in rock music today.

Waiting in Post’s Tilles Center for the show to begin, I admit to having had my reservations: would the MeatMan live up to his legendary reputation? Or had he been reduced to a show business has-been, marinating in the juices of past success? Launching right into Jim Steinman’s “Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)”, Meat Loaf quickly put my fears to rest and set the tone for an evening of awesome rock and roll.

Bat Out Of Hell is, of course, Meat Loaf’s quintessential album, and Bat was the main course at Monday night’s show. Meat Loaf served up six of its seven tracks during the evening (“For Crying Out Loud” was the unfortunate if understandable holdout). The Loaf drew tasty cuts from his lesser known works, including the title tracks from Dead Ringer and Midnight At The Lost And Found, before treating us to a dessert of classic tunes including “Johnny B. Goode”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and “Roll Over Beethoven”.

On vinyl, Meat Loaf’s songs are epic in length and worth every minute. On stage, he dishes out doubly delicious helpings of each. Beefing up stock songs with frequent instrumentals and dramatic monologue, Loaf gave new life to his decade-old hits. Burning through a nearly 2-1/2 hour set with only a momentary break, Meat Loaf consumed the ampitheatre with a spicy version of “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, a tender “Heaven Can Wait”, and a well-seasoned “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”. But as much material as he covered, Meat Loaf only sipped from Jim Steinman’s fountain of classics, leaving at least one fan wanting for another set.

More than a concert, though, a Meat Loaf performance is a drama of operatic proportions. It stars Meat in a dual role as a womanizing, blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll idol and a Gleasonesque comic figure, moving his considerable bulk around the stage with impossible alacrity and grace. Loaf came out of character only briefly, thanking the audience for their loyalty through the years and confirming the rumor that yes, he and Steinman, whatever their differences in the past, would be going back into the studio this September to begin recording what promises to be the greatest chapter yet in this lifelong musical saga: Bat Out Of Hell II.

Meat Loaf’s band, The Neverland Express, did an impressive job of keeping up with the big guy but was somewhat less than up to par. The female vocals were decidedly weak on “Dead Ringer” (a song Meat Loaf shared with Cher, of all people, on the album) but improved in time for the all-important “Paradise”. Sorely missed was Edgar Winter’s searing saxaphone on “All Revved Up And No Place To Go”; alas, there was no sax on stage Monday night.

The crowd, consisting primarily of Post undergraduates, was far too young and too Long Island to appreciate the music or the performance; nevertheless, Loaf had them clapping, chanting, and on their feet by the end of the show. Basting in his own sweat, Meat Loaf clearly gave CW Post 110% of his effort and had a great time doing it. If this is any indication of the quality of shows he’s been putting on in his numerous NY appearances of late, I urge you not to miss your chance to catch the Bat man at your earliest convenience.

Any way you slice it, Meat Loaf is a hit.