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Meat Loaf

The O2, Dublin

The mega-selling eccentric, Meat Loaf, has reached pensionable age and poor health has forced him to call time on playing live. The portly Texan was never the most mobile of performers, but he now carries a pronounced limp after a knee-replacement operation last year.

It makes you think that unlike many of his peers who announce a farewell tour, this one truly will be his last. Unsurprisingly, then, there's a tangible sense of sadness in the air tonight – not least from the man himself.

He sheds bucket-loads of tears and although he was first and foremost an actor, only the most cynical could suggest they weren't genuine.

For the best part of three hours, he delivers a fan-pleasing set that delves into all aspects of a remarkable career.

In truth, there's little to appeal to those who've never "got" Meat Loaf. If you don't care for melodramatic, over-long songs that rarely stray far from the ridiculous, you'll hate the over-cooked versions on show here.

But those willing to look beyond the theatrics can find beauty in the most unlikeliest of places.

There's a wonderful poignancy in 'Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are' while a comparatively recent song, 'The Giving Tree', starts life as a ruminative, acoustic number before swelling into an intoxicating belter replete with spoken word outro.

Meat's touring band are certainly adept at creating a grandiose sound although there are moments – especially in those infrequent saxophone solos – when they come across as a low-rent version of The E-Street Band.

The second half of the show finds the singer and his troupe performing the ultimate Meat Loaf album, Bat Out of Hell, in its entirety.

Released in 1977, it is one of the biggest selling of all time: a making-of documentary shown on the big screens in snippets between songs suggest it has sold more than 45 million copies.

The titular anthem sounds especially robust, although 'Two Out of Three Ain't Bad' is risibly over-cooked.

He has plenty of fun with his long-term collaborator Patti Russo on a goofy rendition of 'Paradise' by the Dashboard Light and he prefaces 'For Crying Out Loud' with some very kind words for Jim Steinman, who composed 'Bat Out of Hell' and much of Meat Loaf's subsequent work.

Steinman also penned 'I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' and tonight's version practically lifts the roof off. Meat's vocals may not be what they were, but Russo's high notes more than compensate.

Emotions run high at the end.

"Thanks for allowing a 65-year-old man to come and say goodbye to you," Meat Loaf says, wiping away the tears.

Irish Independent