An Excerpt from the Life of Somebody Vaguely Associated With RDZ.
I’ve mentioned Kilbirnie before; he is somewhat of a legend, an almost mythic figure in this area of the blogosphere. But he does indeed exist, and he thinks he has what it takes to be a staff writer for the Excerpts.
The problem I have with this is that it sets a dangerous precedent. If Kilbirnie gets GBlog1, then who will get GBlog2? And 3? Soon, any old riff-raff will be posting here…
Let us allow his first entry speak for itself: his review of a recent Meatloaf concert.
You may be wondering why anyone other than Rao Dao Zao is posting on this blog. Well it’s the work of one insidious man, a man called Bob. In an attempt to be funny, Bob, after quoting me, attributed the quote to a publication of this blog. So then as a joke I suggested I write a post, since I’m apparently a “staff writer”, and was told to apply. Somehow the joke had turned on me, and now I was in a position where my options were to back down and loose face (and I base my existence on how much face I have), or apply for a guest blog spot. So in one final attempt to salvage the joke for my own ends I’ve elected to attempt to publish a blog post on a subject almost none of the blog’s readership will care about. Namely, a review of a Meatloaf concert.
I attended the concert with my parents (anniversary present) and girlfriend (Christmas present). Yeah that’s right, I double-dated with my parents. What of it? I’m Kilbirnie, I can pull that kind of thing off.
It’s been said on this blog before so many times, but lets all say it together. One, two, three…
“The SECC is a shed.”
It’s not designed to do anything with acoustics — it’s just designed to put walls around space, and then sell that space. Even if you can forgive this (and you can’t) it’s pretty much all round terrible. The parking requires that you orbit the building a few times before being directed onto a patch of stony ground a good 5 minutes’ walk from the doors. You are later mugged for £6 on the way out. The interior looks like an airport concourse, only without the signs telling you where you’re meant to be going. Water costs £1.50. The seats are all child sized (gotta pack ’em in.) Did I mention that it’s a shed? A big echoey shed.
Luckily every so often a band comes along that has a decent audio engineer. One that can fiddle with the knobs to make things sound borderline acceptable. I was at this point hoping Meatloaf would be such a band.
The support act was “Pearl”. She very distinctly avoided mentioning that she was “Pearl Aday”, a.k.a. Meatloaf’s daughter. First of all, she definitely got daddy’s voice.
Voice aside, it was clear that she was only here because she knew the right people (so to speak). She and her band just sort of sat in the middle of the stage and played. Read that bit again: they played, they did not perform. There was no energy, no emotion, nothing that you couldn’t recreate by playing her album and staring at a picture. They looked like they belonged in a bar room with one of those tiny 3×2 metre stages, because that’s just about all they needed. Maybe less if they all sat closer together.
Realistically, the whole support show could have been performed on a decent couch.
The Main Event
Right, here we go. The lights were off, the crowd was noisy, I could see figures moving around on the stage. The moment had finally arrived. The lights go up and there it is, what we all came to see. An awesome rock band fronted by a sixty-three-year-old fat man. Don’t take that as a disparaging remark, though — it was immediately clear that this was a sixty-three-year-old fat man who was in his element, a master of his craft: and that craft is rocking your face off.
The opening song, however, did no such thing. In fact, it was easily one of the weakest of the night. I never did care much for Hot Patootie, and despite the slipping in of a few time warp moves the performance was pretty lacklustre. Meat’s voice was pretty wonky as well, and it worried me a bit. I had been worried about two things going into the gig: the first being that Meatloaf was past it, and the second being that it was the Hang Cool tour, and as such I feared a barrage of new album tracks and then maybe some hits near the end to keep everyone happy.
Luckily the second song (after the usual it’s-so-good-to-be-here-in-*YOUR CITY* chat) was a much more solid performance of If It Ain’t Broke (Break It). Now this was more like it — the band were in full flow, Meat’s vocal chords had warmed up a bit and he was even starting to sound powerful. Last, but by no means least, the stage lighting was in full on seizure mode. “Things are looking up”, I was thinking. “Now if we just get a few more solid tunes in this could turn out to be a pretty goo… Hang on, I recognize that guitar riff.”
About eight minutes later, I awoke from my rock-induced trance, the SECC stopped vibrating and I could think clearly again. Bat Out of Hell! He had practically opened the concert with Bat Out of Hell! And in that moment, my worries disintegrated. It was clear that they knew what we were here to see. And while Meatloaf’s voice was far from what it once was, it was still something else.
What followed was a run of three songs from the new album, which a great many people used as a piss break. Which is a bit of a shame; while I doubt any off the new stuff will go down in history the way Bat Out of Hell did, they were some decent tunes. They also seemed to be written with Meatloaf’s now-reduced vocal power in mind, so tended to be a bit lighter than his other stuff, though not to the level of being a good old fashioned ballad. But certainly good songs in their own right.
After that the concert was pretty much the hits with the odd new song sprinkled in. It was admittedly clear at some points that the concert had been structured to give Meatloaf’s voice a break every so often. This would have been an issue, if these breaks hadn’t typically consisted of awesome solos.
The show as a whole was well planned, well staged and most importantly well performed — full of great little moments like Meatloaf whacking the lead guitarist repeatedly in the arm while he was trying to do a solo, the pianist hunched over and playing a strange little tune which generated puzzled applause from the crowd before jolting bolt upright and launching into the opening of I Would Do Anything For Love… And, of course, the over-the-top play-acting of the latter half of Paradise By the Dashboard Light (complete with Meatloaf being kicked in the stones). This was a rock show polished to gleaming perfection. The band all got their little individual moments to shine (which at one point, for one of the guitarists, consisted of playing what appeared to be a classical spanish acoustic).
And despite being a sixty-three-year-old fat man, Meatloaf had a commanding presence on stage I just haven’t seen in any other performer.
So to sum it up — it was incredible, but almost counter-intuitively. Even if I get the chance to, I intend never to see Meatloaf perform live, ever again. In the previous tour to this, Meat was troubled by throat problems. As I pointed out, while still awesome, his voice is starting to give out. He himself said it on stage:
“I’m sixty-three, and after singing Bat Out of Hell I sure as hell feel like it.”
I got to see Meatloaf. And while he wasn’t in his prime (oh, for a time machine), he was far far better than I expected. And that’s how I plan to remember him.