Meat may be a tad overdone but still in rare form
Meatloaf, once a great big long-haired hyperactive ball of blubber and one of the biggest selling artists of all time, is now 61. His hair is short and dyed, and to give his dodgy hips some respite, he has shed a barrel full of that pork.
The crowd's welcome is hysterical and earned before we have started -- 'Deadringer for Love', begins payback time.
Only three songs in and I am genuinely worried Meat might be a tad overdone.
The show seems geared around giving him as much down time as possible: a staged kick in the cojones is an opportunity to grab a breather on a stool; he takes regular little trips off stage; and an end-of-song embrace with singer Patti Russo goes on so long, I wonder if he has fallen asleep.
Then there are the dramatic vignettes he plays out with Russo. In one, Meat stands, arms folded, but in truth he looks more like an 'oul wan' leaning over the half door eyeing a passing herd of bullocks. Doesn't matter, the crowd roars approval.
And the formerly stentorian bellow that once blew out whole mixing desks? Meat's hammy tenor now plays fast and loose with pitch and timing and his legendary stage presence is reduced to him lumbering back and forth like a medicated lifer pacing the yard.
After an interlude where his young band flash their cod-metal chops, Meatloaf returns to stage sporting a hairpiece, a replica of his glorious tonsure of old, to perform 'Paradise By The Dashboard Light'. Cue bedlam.
The last song 'Bat Out Of Hell' drags a tear of nostalgic joy even to this jaded old eye as the crowd achieve a state of sheer ecstatic abandon, faithfully bellowing every single word, dragging the jaded but visibly moved Meat over the finish line.
The greatest Meatloaf tribute band in the world may have a bit of an old wreck in the driving seat, but he's still Meatloaf. And there's only one magnificent Meatloaf.