by Jeff Niesel
Meat Loaf is an entertainer in the old-fashioned sense of the word. The guy knows how to work a crowd, something that was readily apparent during last night’s two-hour show at the State Theatre. The performance wasn’t a terrific one — Meat Loaf didn’t select his best songs and often sounded out of sync with the band. But thanks to pure showmanship, he appeared to have the near-capacity crowd enthralled for most of the night.
During the middle of “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” for example, the guy went on a tangent about how his grandfather once told him to “give you everything you got.” That, in turn, inspired him to approach his live performances in that manner. “When I walk onto this stage, I am willing to die for you,” he said rather dramatically as he then chastised the patrons sitting in the upper deck of the venue for not standing during his performance like the fans sitting on the lower level. The fans that were sitting instantly got to their feet — Meat Loaf has that uncanny ability to inspire people.
But the show got off to a sluggish start as Meat Loaf began the set with a bland rocker that featured images of bottles of Patron on the giant video screen behind the band. Yeah, the message was clear. It was time to get the party started. But Meat Loaf’s music has been more about theatricality than hedonism so the message didn’t seem to fit the man’s music. That could also be said about “Stand in the Storm,” a tune that featured Lil’ Jon (again on the giant video screen), who laid down some wicked raps. It wasn’t a good musical match.
Meat Loaf finally got on track with “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights,” a grandiose tune that he delivered with aplomb. Too bad the momentum didn’t continue with “Los Angeloser,” a hokey song that came off as a bad country tune. He did “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” a disservice by speeding up its tempo and he didn’t deliver “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad” with enough energy (perhaps because he sat on a stool for the entire for the performance). Meat Loaf has said he’ll tour for one more year before calling it quits, and we’d really like to see him go out with some stellar performances. This show won’t stand up as one of the classic ones.