When I dragged m’lady out to see Meat Loaf at the Ottawa Whatever Centre on March 16th, 2007 I was still buzzing from the first time I had seen him. Sure, it had been a decade or more since that show, but man, that first Meat Loaf concert really knocked my socks off. Sure, the big guy was a bunch of years older but I figured the brawny quasi-opera rocker would still be delivering.
I figured wrong.
At that first Meat Loaf concert he had shocked from the first number. Though I had been expecting a half-decent show from an aging near-has-been Mr. Loaf came raging out of the gate like he was touring his debut record. To be fair, at the time he was touring Bat Out of Hell II (or was it III?) and the album had a hit – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), and he deftly folded his surprising resurgence into his unrelenting legacy and created an engaging, dramatic, not-yet-nostalgic concert that filled me with classic, operatic joy throughout.
At this concert – on the other hand – despite starting off with a trio of unforgettable numbers from his landmark Bat Out Of Hell (I) record, this time around Meat Loaf came out of the gate already tired, already stale, already a mere shadow of his former glories who seemed to be going through the motions of resting on his laurels.
Sure I still sang along to every word, but I did so quietly and with nary a fist raised o’er my head. For m’lady’s part, she sat there quietly taking it in, patiently enduring one classic rock fiasco after another as her man attempted to dust the skeletons from his childhood closet of wistful sentimentality, eternal longing, and ultimate remorse.
By the time the encore came around my disappointment was much too developed to be saved by even the surprising bam-bam-bam covers of Black Betty, Mercury Blues, or even the show-closing vocal litmus test that is The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. I know, right? That must have been pretty sweet huh?
Nope. Okay, it wasn’t bad, but I don’t shell out good money to see concerts in hopes that they’ll be “not bad”. C’mon now.
On the way out the door I tried to explain to m’lady (yet again) just how powerful, vital, and downright epic Meat had been the last time, but I’m not sure if she believed me. Heck, I wasn’t so sure i believed myself.
Could it be I was starting to see through the facade of pining retro-rock revues? Maybe, but I won’t know for sure until I see my first Pat Benatar concert. Now there’s a show that I bet m’lady would like.
(In light of the recent passing of Mr. Loaf [1947-2022] I must say that while everything in this missive remains valid, Michael [née Marvin] Lee Aday shall forever maintain an epic place in the history of rock music, and with good reason. The original Bat Out of Hell record was a completely unique swing for the bleachers that connected huge and went way, way out of the park. It is the greatest concept album in the history of the genre and every single track still utterly thrills me. It’s perfect, and perfection is forever.)