Meat Loaf holds court at the Chumash
April 5, 2011
There are certain musical icons whom you should see at least once, an entertainment bucket list if you will. I probably would not add aging rocker and recent celebrity apprentice Meat Loaf to that list but after his energetic, amusing concert at the Chumash Casino, he’s a definite must-see.
Yes, that Meat Loaf of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ and ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ fame 35 plus years ago.
Before a near capacity and enthusiastic crowd at the classy Santa Ynez venue, the big guy prowled the stage like an cranky old man searching for his reading glasses. In between, he belted out classics like Hot Patootie, ‘Two out of Three Ain’t Bad’ and I’d Do Anything for Love…’
He implored the audience to stand up and sing the chorus of ‘You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth’ while insulting security, most of whom smiled in mild amusement. Meat Loaf is pissed off and wants everyone to know it. He even threw old friend Gary Busey under the bus, declaring his TV show comrade “totally crazy”. We pretty much knew that already, Meat.
However Marvin Lee Aday, as he was named at birth, continued to engage and entertain the audience with stories about his family, band, odd career and ever-increasing age. Naturally, he promoted his most recent album, 2010’s ‘Hang Cool, Teddy Bear’ that predictably has gone nowhere. But that’s OK, no one came for his new material even though the two tracks he played from it were pretty strong.
All this banter aside, and there was plenty of it, Meat Loaf puts on a helluva show. He’s got a great 7-piece rock band, complete with an jet-white piano that for some strange reason faced the back of the stage. Their lush, operatic sound fit his booming voice and songwriter Jim Steinman’s Wagnerian rock to a tee.
He frequently played off chanteuse back-up singer Patty Rizzo — their sexual interplay was corny and kitschy but apropos during the long, drawn out classic ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light.’ For an encore, Meat Loaf sang an enthusiastic rendition of ‘Mercury Blues’, popularized by David Lindley three decades ago.
Much of the crowd was crammed in front of the stage by the end, cheering and photographing the singer. It’s a nice touch by the Chumash staff to drop the ropes halfway into their shows and let patrons rush the stage. And you won’t find a more diverse array of headliners on the central coast than at the casino. While I won’t be lining up to see Michael Bolton or Yanni this month and next, their formula of offering something for everyone entertainment-tastes seems to be working just fine.
A lot of veteran rockers/musicians mail it in, sleepwalking through a 75-minute set and leaving the audience feeling cheated. But Meat Loaf owned the Chumash stage for just over two hours on that early spring evening, taking full advantage of what probably was a promising but ultimately mediocre music career.
Hey, God loves a trier.