I guessed that I was in for an interesting experience last week at Hammersmith Odeon when the concert started with a demonic looking character in a black leather jacket slowly peeling off leather gauntlets, while the drummer was thumping out what sounded like the beat to Ravel's Bolero.
After the rest of the band - two keyboard players, two guitarists and a bass player - had assembled and had been playing for about five minutes, on came two backing singers, followed by the grand entrance of Meat Loaf himself. Yes, Meat Loaf is a person, though the name must refer to his diet. He began stalking across the stage in his frilly dress shirt and dinner jacket, daintily holding a red silk handkerchief. Then he showed his true colors and considerable belly, when he threw off his dinner jacket and got worked up for the first number - Bat Out Of Hell - the title track from his current epic chart album (EPC 82419).
That drew great response from the packed audience and he continued with well known material, all at maximum watts, moving into the chart single You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (EPC 5980).
While the music is loud and rocking, Meat Loaf's performance is highly theatrical as he acts out several numbers, mostly with his attractive female backing singer. One told the story of a wolf preying on the girl, while another described the mayhem caused by a boy maniac killing people with a Fender guitar. In the latter, the boy is about to club his parents to death in bed when his father wakes up and says: "Son, is that any way to treat an expensive musical instrument?"
Meat Loaf left the stage at one point to allow his band to show they could really play, and they did in a series of competent solos. Meat Loaf then came back for a couple of soulful rockers in Johnny B. Goode and River Deep, Mountain High, with the singer shedding about a stone in weight if effort and perspiration are anything to go by.