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Concert Reviews:
Meat Loaf serves up at happy homecoming at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The good news is that Meat Loaf stayed on his feet for the entire two hours of his concert Friday night (Aug. 5) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The "Bat Out of Hell" singer's health had been called into question after a couple of well-publicized onstage collapses during the week leading up to his Detroit area return. The media attention was something of a burr in his saddle, in fact, as Meat Loaf took time during Friday's show to take a few shots, telling the crowd -- sarcastically, of course -- that "I do believe everything I read. I do believe every (bleeping) thing on TV, every newspaper article...Anything TMZ has to say is the God's honest truth."

So there was something of a triumphant air as Meat Loaf and his seven-piece band powered their way through Friday's concert, a theatrically minded affair that did more with attitude and temperament than props and treated most of the 11 songs, plus an encore medley, as suite-like constructions that could not be embellished too much or expanded too long. Though he pronounced himself "a 63-year-old prizefighter," the Texas-born singer was limping and struggled with his vocals throughout the show, treating an audible asthmatic wheeze with slugs of Pedialyte, but he mitigated that with a robust and at times cheerfully campy performance.

Meat Loaf began his recording career in Detroit, signed to Motown's Rare Earth label along with Bob Seger backup singer Shaun "Stoney" Murphy while both were in a Fisher Theatre production of "Hair," and he made sure to renew the connection on Friday. "Detroit, trust me, if it weren't for you, there would be no me," he said at one point, later praising the city's rock 'n' roll legacy. He also apologized for canceling a planned 2010 performance at the Motor City Casino's SoundBoard due to illness.

But the concert focused on his glory years that came after his time here, kicking off with "Hot Patootie -- Bless My Soul," which he performed in "The Rocky Horror Show" on stage and in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and dipping into all three of the "Bat Out of Hell" albums, including a charged rendition of the title track, an audience singalong during "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)" and an epic-to-a-fault (i.e. too long) presentation of "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," with longtime duet partner Patti Russo general besting Loaf.

He also performed the opening segment from 2010's "Hang Cool Teddy Bear," a three-song suite that comprised "Peace on Earth," "Living on the Outside" and "Losangeloser." But many of the show's most memorable moments came from those working behind Meat Loaf, whether it was Russo's vocals on "Paradise..." and "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," Michigan-born keyboardist Justin Avery's piano solo on "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" or the group's Springsteen-styled coda to "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through."

The encore, meanwhile, was messy but fun, fusing together the "Hang Cool Teddy Bear" bonus track "Boneyard" with the closing vamp from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" and Loaf's "All Revved Up With No Place to Go." It was an energetic cap to a flawed but fun homecoming-of-sorts, a filling if not entirely satisfying serving of Meat Loaf.

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