Universal Amphitheater; Los Angeles, CA, 07/25/03

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I had promised myself, a long time fan of the great Meat Loaf, that the next time he came to my town, I was going to his show - no matter what. Finally, a tour was announced for Meat Loaf's new album, "Couldn't Have Said It Better." 

I was all set to go.

And then I found out that tickets were $75.00 each. And that doesn't count the bloodsucker fee charged by Ticketmaster. Now we were looking at almost $90.00 each. Yikes!

So I said, "Screw it! Meat Loaf will be back again" and I decided I would pass.

And then Meat Loaf said this would be his last tour. Of course, we've heard that before - AC/DC have said it, The Who ... hell, KISS are still on their Farewell Tour as far as I can tell.

But then there are also the Ramones - who announced the time and place of their last show and stuck to it (no bad jokes here; four or five years passed from the time the band split up until the untimely deaths of Joey and Dee Dee. As far as we'll ever know, the Ramones meant it when they said they were calling it quits). I finally got to see the Ramones live at their last ever performance, but I was that close to missing them forever.

I wasn't about to miss Meat Loaf.

So I painfully ponied up $75 (plus bloodsucker fee) and headed down to the Universal Amphitheater, a great place to see a rock'n'roll show.

And what a great rock'n'roll show it was.

Cyndi Lauper was up first and, I know what you're thinking - "Why the hell is he going to review Cyndi Lauper in a hard rock / heavy metal 'zine?" And I'll tell you why: Cyndi was great. Her interaction with the audience was second to none; I mean, I have never seen a performer so in touch with her fans. She played all of her big hits - and there were more than I remembered - and she spent half of the time actually in the audience, climbing onto chairs as her fans surrounded her, singing the songs along with her as the rest of the audience either applauded, sang along or ran over to where she was to get a closer look. Cyndi did this many times during her lengthy performance but she never lost her fan's attention and she won over the manly men who were "there just to see Meat Loaf." Lauper's singing voice remains stunning. You'd never know from her Brooklyn Betty Boop speaking voice that she could sing as well as she does but Lauper can really belt them out. Her performance set a higher bar for the headliner.

Of course, that headliner was Meat Loaf and I don't think you can set a bar high enough so he can't reach it. Meat Loaf took the stage with his band, all of whom were wearing black light neon, and performed the entire first song in the dark with only their faces and guitars lit up. An impressive beginning. 

Armed with a huge collection of songs by songwriter extraordinaire Jim Steinman, and plenty written by others, Meat Loaf burned through his incredible collection of superhits and the audience sang along and pumped their fists with every one of them. "Bat Out Of Hell" sounded awesome, as did "Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back," "You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth," "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and the rest. Even the new songs - which American audiences have probably never heard - got a resounding welcome - "Testify" and "Love You Out Loud" and "Do It!"

As expected, Meat Loaf poured every ounce of his spirit into the performance, belting out the tunes in his one-of-a-kind, still amazing monster of a voice and racing across the stage like a man half his age and half his size. If there was any disappointment in the evening, it was the unfulfilled promise that Meat Loaf had requested that Cyndi Lauper's stage stairs be left in place so he could come down and mix with the audience. He never ventured off the stage, however.

Regardless, by the time the powerful finale of the classic "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Livin' in the USA" (with its giant American flags, full confetti storm and raging rock'n'roll guitars) the audience was on their feet, screaming for more, despite the fact that Meat Loaf had already pummeled them almost brutally for over two hours with his bigger-than-life rock'n'roll show. 

If you haven't seen Meat Loaf live, do it!

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.