Meat Loaf performed an installment of his “Rocktells and Cocktails” residency on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, N.V. – On a Saturday night just as the strip is heating up with the combined crowds of St. Patrick’s Day and spring break, fans funnel into Planet Hollywood’s Showroom. Primped cocktail waitresses scurry between VIP tables and seated rows, taking orders and asking something you don’t hear every day.
“Do you have any questions for Meat Loaf?”
Fast forward one hour, and the purveyor of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ is on stage answering them one by one.
“How did you get the name Meat?” reads one of the more obvious queries.
“I’ve been Meat for a long time,” he says, before telling how the name arrived to him as a young child. In the age of stage names dreamed up by focus groups or by music executives in boardrooms, it’s a refreshing if not surprising reminder that the 66-year-old entertainer is the real deal. An original.
In this intimate question-and-answer setting, all that’s seen is a man with nothing but a microphone, an iPad, and a video projector. Easily forgotten are the thousand fans in the crowd, or the time he sold 43 million copies of one record. Yeah, that time.
But back to the beginning.
The lounge-like atmosphere of the showroom is shattered as a heavy-hitting guitar riff drops and a massive LED screen washes the stage in color. The moment the spotlight turns on, the star is wide-eyed and ready at the microphone. A guitar strap reading “MEAT” is drawn across his all-black wardrobe.
Before long he’s turned the microphone into a weapon, using it to belt out the kind of notes you just don’t expect from a man in his fifth decade of performing. The band, effortlessly tight, is pouring out sizzling rhythms and solos by the ton.
Meat Loaf is smack in the middle of his second residency here, but he’s not letting off the gas pedal.
When the second song begins with yet another artfully jarring guitar riff, there’s already an outfit change as he opts for a leather jacket.
The tone has officially been set. While the Loaf could surely rest on his ample ballad catalog, this is no prodding, predictable set. This is an artist who’s ready to show there’s a lot more to Meat Loaf than meets the eye.
In between songs, he shows off his acting chops. In between acting and singing, he hosts the Q and A.
While the disappointing, predictable lounge acts of old Vegas drift further into the rearview mirror, Meat Loaf is part of a burgeoning new style of the strip: bring the fans everything they want, and present it in a way that’s fresh and unexpected.
It’s been working nicely for Def Leppard and Motley Crue, who earned rave reviews for the unique twists and turns their residences took.
But none have, and few could, present this kind of diversity. One minute, he argues in character with two clowns. The next, he shakes the house with “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”.
“When Britney Spears does her show next door, they’re still going to hear your echo!” he tells the crowd after a particularly strong lyric call-back from the crowd.
‘Phoning it in’ is not in his lexicon. For all the repetitiveness that a Vegas show requires, Meat Loaf lets none of it on. When a big note is in the works, his hand trembles and voice quivers as he summons a seemingly bottomless well of emotion.
Such a stirring performance can overload the senses.
When it came time to walk out of the showroom and back on to the strip, its thrilling lights and glamour seemed almost pedestrian.
There’s still time to catch Meat Loaf on the Vegas circuit through April 8. Tickets and more information are available at planethollywoodresort.com.