Call me Russ L

‘Loafing Around

Posted in Music by Russ L on 21 May, 2007

I don’t understand the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ when it comes to music. If I’ve found something to like in a band then that’s what I like about them, and I don’t see why I’d be even remotely embarrassed about it. Many would call me uncool for liking Meatloaf and having seen him in 1993 (it appears I was taken to task recently for having seen him and Al Green rather than Dylan and, erm, The Strokes), but sod ’em. On 14/5/7 I went to see him again.

I worked late and went straight from Walsall, encountering the best train conductor ever on the way. Someone had obviously told him that Meatloaf was playing at the NEC. “Change here for Steak ‘n’ Kidney Pie,” he said over the tannoy just before Birmingham International; “The backing group will be Chips And Mushrooms.”

The seats we’d managed to acquire weren’t bad but were a touch on the bizarre side, positioned in a tier on the left hand side as you look at the stage, at maybe a ten-twenty degree angle in front of it. Quite close (relatively speaking. It’s an arena after all), but a strange angle to view from (and not in optimal position regarding the speakers, although the sound was reasonable enough. Relatively speaking, again). The seats seemed very cramped together there, too, or at least a lot more so than I remember ever having experienced at the NEC before. That could well just have been my faulty memories, though.

Supporting artiste Marion Raven (there may or may not have been someone before her that we missed, I’m not sure) was a bit dull. She had that weird jump between “bubbly” between songs and “angsty” during them that we’ve all seen before on many occasions, but it seemed particularly jarring here. Strong voice and all the usual blah that this sort of artist always has, but bland songs.

Meatloaf’s set began early. I should’ve been expecting this since I knew perfectly well he’d be doing more than two hours, but y’know, I’m thick. Out he comes with a saft wig on and my instant thought is that he’s looking his age (he’s really looking quite jowly these days, although has lost a lot of weight). He was also (for reasons best known to someone other than me) putting on a weird shambling gait for the first song or two. Meatloaf acting like Ozzy, now ain’t that something to see.

He soon dropped it to become the whirling ball of energy everybody knows and loves, and ain’t he just. Stock terms like ‘showman’ and ‘entertainer’ get overused, but he does justify them completely. One aspect of his performance that was slightly unusual was that he phrased a lot of lyrics in quite a few of the older songs differently (not changing the words at all, just the phrasing). It makes perfect sense (singing these songs for so long must make you want to do things slightly differently), but isn’t something you expect at a gig like this. Long solos and wandering middle-eights yes, minute changes to the vocal lines not as much.

Highlights were a’plenty. ‘Life Is A Lemon’ was very stomping and aggressive, quite Nuremberg rally-esque, while ‘Objects In The Rear View Mirror’ was the absolute height of drama and, of course, ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ was every bit as much fun as you might expect. An encore of covers was the absolute last thing I expected (The Ram-Jam Band’s ‘Black Betty,’ The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Mercury Blues’ by… erm… who sang that?), and the string of new songs he did all sounded very, very big. It’s just dawned on me that I’m talking about Meatloaf songs here, and so as a description that doesn’t particular narrow anything down. Ah well. One called something along the lines of ‘In The Kingdom Of Pigs’ was the one that stood out, an aggressive-ish affair with a nod (well, more of a headbut) to Orwell in the lyrics.

I’d like to be able to hold this in comparison with the first time I saw ‘Loaf, but sadly far too many years have passed since the previous one. I was only little at the time. Whichever way up, this was great, great fun, and as an added bonus we eventually managed to make our way to where the car was parked afterwards without running out of iron rations. You want to talk big, then never mind Meatloaf’s music – consider the NEC carpark…


3 Responses

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  1. helen said, on 22 May, 2007 at 6:14 am

    Alan jackson did mercury Blues.

  2. Jessica said, on 24 May, 2007 at 6:39 am

    I completely agree on the guilty pleasures comment…if you’re going to like a band/artist and show your support by listening the music, you shouldn’t be afraid to admit it to others around you. After all, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of an artist’s marketing if his or her fans can’t have pride? :-P

  3. Russ L said, on 24 May, 2007 at 8:13 am

    I don’t think I’d say I’m ‘proud’ either, though. That strikes me as the reverse of the same coin.

    I might like a band/artist, and if so I like them because of reasons A, B and C. I just can’t see how that’s something to either be ashamed of or hang your hat on.

    Cheers for commenting Jessica, anyway, and good luck with your blog. Pay no heed to those who are ‘against’ it.


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