In support of the Halloween release of the third and probably final installment of “Bat Out of Hell,” Meat Loaf opted to present his bombastic, theatrical music on smaller, more intimate stages. If anything, his Nov. 3 performance at Toronto’s posh Elgin Theatre proved that many of his songs are screaming to be used in some “Bat Out of Hell” stage production.
With a large string section and an eight-piece supporting cast behind him, Meat Loaf, sporting a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, tore into the opening verse of “All Revved Up (With No Place To Go)” before quickly veering off into the classic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
Singer Aspen Miller, wearing a skimpy ivory top and shorts, was more than capable of playing the role of the song’s sassy female, while giving and taking with the 59-year-old singer. This lead directly into the spoken word “Hot Summer Night” interlude before “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth” got the crowd up and on its feet.
Perhaps the oddest part of the evening was how hit-heavy the first 55-minute portion was. Rather than save the best for last, Loaf churned out classic signatures from 1977’s “Bat Out of Hell” as well as 1993’s “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell.” On “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” he crouched over to hit the notes that came much easier over a decade ago.
Resembling a prize-fighter in for the long haul, the sweaty singer slowed things down and closed out the first portion of the night with the tender “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are.”
Following a 15-minute intermission, the second half concentrated primarily on material from “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose.” After the orchestral, haunting rendition of the John Williams-like instrumental “The Storm,” the group drove headlong into a rather odd, messy and clumsy piece of rock-meets-nu metal dubbed “The Monster Is Loose.” The punishing, brooding number was vocally demanding and intense but found most of the audience sitting on their hands.
The ensuing “Bad for Good” was a significant improvement, with Paul Crook playing the Brian May guitar parts during the winding, twisting rock epic.
Yet for every hit, there seemed to be a brief miss around the corner, as was the case with the somewhat flat “If It Ain’t Broke Break It,” another busy number that had little direction. It was quickly forgotten when Loaf nailed the impressive “Blind as a Bat,” which sounds like a distant cousin of “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin.
Seizing the moment, the group then uncorked the title track from the 1977 “Bat” to the delight of the standing crowd. The final high note was “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” which found Loaf dueting with Scandinavian vocalist Marion Raven. “Bat Out of Hell” may be complete, but Meat Loaf seems just as passionate about this career calling card.
Here is Meat Loaf’s set list:
“All Revved Up With No Place To Go”
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light”
“You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
“Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)”
“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
“Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”
“The Monster Is Loose”
“Bad for Good”
“If It Ain’t Broke Break It”
“Blind As a Bat”
“Bat Out of Hell”
“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”
“Life Is a Lemon (And I Want My Money Back)”