Meatloaf ‘Last at Bat’ at The O2, Dublin | Review
There’s a lot of retirement in the news at the minute. Musicians don’t generally retire as such, but Meatloaf has taken what appears to be the decision to have one final tour. It’s been said before but this time it feels real. The desire is always to go out on top, and finishing with a tour of ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ – one of the best albums of all time – is not a bad way to do it.
The Beatles’ When I’m 64 rings out over the P.A. as The O2 sings along to the classic tune. An homage to our ageing star of sixty-five years as another night of rock opera kick starts in Dublin. The show rattles through some highlights of Meat’s career including Dead Ringer For Love, Object In The Rearview Mirror, Out of the Frying Pan and even Los Angeloser from the latest album. It’s quite clear that Meatloaf is struggling to breathe properly and the songs have been reworked ever so slightly to allow him to get the words out in his own time. The high notes are few and far between as he seems to be fighting to get the words out of his throat and into the mic.
It’s these struggles that really make his powerful run through of ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ start to finish, in full dramatic theatre as only an artist like Meatloaf can lavish upon an audience. Each song is interspliced with footage from a documentary from years ago with Jim Steinman and Meatloaf, and those who played a part in making the album such a success. Each segment giving Meat a chance to recoup for a minute while unravelling the tale for anyone who still doesn’t know the story behind the album. Patti Russo playing the full brass hotter than hell vocal throughout as Meatloaf takes multiple opportunities to pay tribute to Steinman’s brilliance.
It’s a long version Bat Out Of Hell, a high tempo All Revved Up and a theatrical as ever Paradise By The Dashboard Light full with inflatable bats, boobs, hands and gestures all conveying that sense of teenage adventure the album describes so well. Meatloaf lets the tears flow for For Crying Out Loud as we have heard he has on the tour so far – a song close to his heart that he says “Is the best love song he’s ever heard”, and he’s spent 40 years looking for something better.
As emotions sweep the capacity crowd to their feet, giving Meatloaf a warm and deserved standing ovation, there is a sense that this is it. This isn’t just one last tour to be followed by another. This would be it. The encore has the crowd singing and rising to its feet applauding I Would Do Anything For Love / Boneyard as this gig draws to its conclusion. This was not the Meatloaf voice of the ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ era, it wasn’t the vocal of even three years ago when he stunned The O2 with a phenomenal show. It was however a show with more drama and passion and love for the music than most acts you see on stage, despite his failing vocal chords.
A stage piece of phenomenal music from a back catalog surrounding one of the seminal albums of our time. Bringing rock opera to life before your eyes and laying out one last time on the live stage, the music of one of the worlds great rock composers alongside the perfect performer for that music. It was a match made in heaven, a musical marriage which we may never see again in our lifetime. As Meat departs the stage he has imparted the information that he will be back in studio with Jim Steinman in January. There might be some music left in these old dogs of war and, even if they can’t tour it, that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to share their genius with us.
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Photos: Michelle Geraghty