Review by Scott StegengaEven 25 years since his debut on the scene, you still snicker at the name Meat Loaf. You can't help but enjoy something of an act that has been popular all these years with one of the more unique names in entertainment. So what's happened during those years? We've seen the actor/singer lose some of his original 300+ pounds, record a multi-platinum sequel to a stunning debut along with a proverbial appearance on VH-1's Storytellers, drive the Spice Girls around the world in "Spice World," and more recently don some "bitch tits" while hugging Ed Norton in "Fight Club." What's not to like?
Photos by Barry Brecheisen
So Marvin Aday and Friends... ok, Meat Loaf and friends, appeared at Chicago's House of Blues to a near-sold out performance that contained all the hits, partying, and dramatic stage presence that any Meat Loaf show could possibly contain. At 9pm sharp the lights went down and the crowd of partiers started chanting "Meat! Meat! Meat!" only to hear two small opening sets by Kasim Sulton and Patricia Rouseau. Who are they you ask? The audience asked them the same question. Seems the "& Friends" part of the bill was to include some of the band members and their solo work. Utopia Bassist Kasim Sulton, who has played with Meat Loaf's band since day one, came out first to perform a 3-song solo-acoustic set followed by backup singer Patricia Rouseau and the rest of the band to belt out a few tunes. Soon afterwards, the real performance began.
Walking on stage alone to rev up the audience, Meat began the set with a tribal drum intro that slowly introduced each member of his band and finally culminating with a flamboyant version of "Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back." With a heart pounding start like that, the operatic rock performance that is a Meat Loaf show began. Yes, he's a tad trimmer, his hair is shorter, and the 70s clothes are long gone, but the rest of the stage antics are still there. Eyes bulging out and sweat dripping like icicles on July 4th, Meat got the crowd going with theatrical-esque performances of classics like "All Revved Up With No Place to Go," "Rock and Roll Dreams Come True," and a cover version of "Tear me Down" from the rock musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Meat was still resurrecting his former self as he exchanged vocals with backup singer Rouseau during "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" as if he was really planning on hitting that home run in the back seat.
Unfortunately, not all was perfect in Meat Loaf's little corner of Hell. The $75 ticket price was something everyone can complain about along with constant chattering by a drunken audience that occasionally received more attention than the performance on stage. Distracting calls of "You Da Man Meat!" and the like would come out during the once-unique dramatic pauses in "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" making Loaf himself seem a tad peeved.
As the set winded down with a sit-down acoustic set with "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and an unnecessary cover version of "Mony Mony," the audience got a taste of future talent with Meat Loaf's daughter and backup singer, Pearl Aday, swooning the audience with an impressive version of Randy Newman's "Guilty" sounding like the cover version that Bonnie Raitt made famous.
Despite the complications, the evening ended with more songs out of hell as Meat and Friends performed "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth" (complete with haunting dialogue) and "Bat Out of Hell" making the night a pleasant one for all.
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