One of the most famous Meat Loaf songs has a wish that, while being kissed, the words are taken right out of his mouth. Barely two songs into this show I was praying for that song's wish to come true; the stolen words part anyway.
The man born Marvin Lee Aday, known to his wife and to fans around the world as Meat Loaf, simply cannot sing any more. But he is determined to act out every song as best he can.
Opening with his hit from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the song Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul, with pictures of the younger Meat (as the film's Eddie character) on the big screen, he won over the crowd and had them ready to boogie.
Third song of the night was Bat Out Of Hell, the Wagnerian absurdity that sees its narrator sing of his own death. If Meat Loaf wasn't in fine voice, he was in fine humour, telling the audience that he had to search the stage for body parts after performing one of his biggest hits. He should have started with the larynx.
New Meat Loaf songs are like a Frankenstein's monster of composition; built from the parts of older Meat Loaf songs. The new Meat Loaf clearly thinks he's still the old Meat Loaf, staging each song as if a theatrical soliloquy.
But his concept of recital now seems limited to hunching over the microphone stand, huddling with it as if for strength, praying for a vocal performance that is simply no longer there.
It's a disconcerting faith-act of sorts, pouring so much of himself into each song and straining in the hope that something resembling the right note - and sometimes even just any note - might appear.
When he did get to Hot Summer Night (aka You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth), the backing singers were there to answer the prayer, taking on most of the song.
Sometimes the "new" songs were, in fact, simply old songs disguised by the struggling vocals. Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through eventually revealed itself after whatever pained bleat that Meat put in place of the song's original melody. It sounded like a death rattle.
He was out of step with his band, singing in some odd skeleton key that, whilst never technically correct, did seem to open all of the song's doors for the fans to feel at home still.
That was probably because he showed early gratitude and appreciation for the turnout. He mentioned being one month off celebrating 45 years in the business.
Baffling really, given that those 45 years come, almost entirely, from the ongoing fad that is that one significant album.
Still, the fans got what they wanted in most senses: he was there and he gave it his all. He might not be able to perform to full ability but no one seemed that sad, because, of course, two out of three ain't bad.
Meatloaf performs Bat Out Of Hell at Summerfest 2011
Meatloaf's original Bat Out Of Hell video clip
- © Fairfax NZ News
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