July 15, 2003
The Tabernacle - Atlanta


Kasim Sulton:

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Meat Loaf:

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With “farewell” tours having taken the fashionable place of last decade’s “reunion” craze, Meat Loaf has now thrown his “bat” into the ring. Strangely, the so-called “farewell” show consists of many new songs. Are we to believe that he’s actually going to quit if this new material takes its place besides the cleverly named Bat Out Of Hell 2: Back Into Hell that brought him his first major comeback and only number one single a decade ago? Who could be so cynical as to believe this isn’t really the end of the meaty minstrel?

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 The show itself was just what you’d expect. Although it took a few numbers to really kick in, by the time that “All Revved Up With No Place To Go” hit the crowd in the face, all cylinders were firing. Meat pulled out all the stops of a Southern Baptist fire and brimstone preacher, especially on the aptly titled new song “Testify.” The Tabernacle seemed the perfect place to preach and Meat used all of his Texas derived charisma to full effect. Luckily, the man understands his own camp and used it to his advantage. He balanced his Broadway gospel shtick with a shrewd understanding on how to excite the crowd. During an extended intro to “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” her repeatedly stopped and waited, making the crowd nearly beg him for the first line. His backup band was top notch and prowled the multi-level stage like a thundering monster with a sensitive side. Classic ballads like “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” were mixed side by side with devastating rockers like “Out Of The Frying Pan (Into The Fire)” and each felt like the group’s specialty. If anyone had doubts about the skills of the musicians, they were laid to rest during a ferocious ten-minute version of “Bat Out Of Hell” that brought the crowd to its feet and would’ve drained most Ozzfest bands (that is assuming that any of them would have the finesse to play a song of this magnitude).

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After a successful sing-a-long of “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth,” Meat upped the ante with a swaggering take of “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” He and female vocalist Patricia Russo alternately teased and tormented each other, even acting out the famous audio make out scene on stage. At the end of the unhappily-ever-after tune, the group slid into Chuck Berry’s “Back In The USA” with all the abandon of kids in a garage. American flags dropped and adorned guitars. Red, white and blue confetti filled the venue. Several thousand fans danced along. Sure, it was cheesy as all get out. It was crowd baiting and silly. It was fun.

Chris McKay /

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