Responding to an audience question during his Planet Hollywood Resort show, Meat Loaf recalls a promise he made to Italian horror director Dario Argento about an acting role: “I’ll give you everything I’ve got.”
The same is true in Las Vegas. You can debate how much he has left, and whether it’s your thing or not. But you can’t deny he’s giving you everything he’s got.
If you’re a fan, it’s enough.
This custom-Vegas show is more than a straight-ahead concert. It turns out to be the embodiment of the blustery, bug-eyed singer’s music and persona: over the top, campy, adolescent and a little nuts.
If you stuck with him since the ’70s, it’s a perfect blend of Vegas and Vegas-sized personality.
If you fell out of touch since “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”? Or if, heaven forbid, this is an impulse buy? You might have wondered what you walked into.
Or why you once listened to this stuff. Jim Steinman’s anthems don’t sound like anything you hear anymore and come off even more like amped-up “Rocky Horror”-style show tunes than they did in the ’70s.
Meat Loaf’s theatrical rock ’n’ roll probably would have been a big hit on the Strip 10 years ago, when the singer was just 56, when the megaselling “Bat Out of Hell” album was only 26 years old and when the singer had a better chance of sounding like his younger self (recognizing that even his younger self battled vocal problems).
When the show opens with the chunky Sturm und Drang power chords of “Life Is a Lemon (and I Want My Money Back)” a thundering six-piece band and two female singers pretty well obliterate the star’s lead vocals, which are about as comprehensible as latter-day James Brown.
The blonde foils (Stacie Michelle and Lyssa Lynne) step down one at a time to take their roles in rock operas such as “Dead Ringer for Love” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” often revealing the Meat can’t meet them on even ground anymore.
Still, the show turns out to be a hoot. There isn’t a dull moment, except within the songs. When Wayne Newton is in bad voice, it’s kind of a problem. With Meat Loaf? Not so much.
This show is (perhaps confusingly) branded by producer Adam Steck as part of a series called “RockTellz &CockTails.” That means it incorporates a “VH1 Storytellers” vibe, which is made to order for this serving of Meat Loaf.
He tells us how he got the name. The former Marvin Lee Aday (“My given name is Marvin and I hate it”) stepped on the foot of his eighth-grade football coach, who yelled “Get off my foot you hunk of meatloaf!” to the delight of the other kids.
He talks about doing “Hair” on Broadway — getting an extra $12.75 per show “not to be nekid,” about Fergie the Duchess of York calling him “Meaty” and about going ballistic on Gary Busey on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Most of these anecdotes stem from audience questions, but he must get asked them a lot. The anecdotes come with slides or video he cues from his iPad, although his interface issues with the device will not bring an instant endorsement from Apple.
All these stories are fun to hear. And even the singing got better in the rare moments, such as a stretch or two of “Anything,” when the band drops to a delicate accompaniment that lets him be heard.
Still, when Loaf and Lynne suited up as “American Grafitti” high schoolers and took their places behind a prop convertible cutout for the big money song “Dashboard,” it turned out to be comedy — updating the saga to the Vegas wedding chapel era — that saved a flat, otherwise disappointing musical rendition.
The show should have ended there, but it did not. It could not. Why?
Because the next song was “Bat Out of Hell,” and it has some prop bats that would make Spinal Tap proud.
Of course it does.
Contact Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or 702-383-0288.