If you didn’t already know it, I’m a big fan of Jim Steinman. The man is just brilliant. And he’s a snazzy dresser. In my (not so) humble opinion, Steinman has written some of the best songs of the 20th century. Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, even Kiss can’t compete with Steinman, the mastermind who penned the songs on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, released in 1977. As C.S. Lewis would put it, Steinman’s music has a “northness” to it, a Wagnerian Nordic feel that makes you think of Viking ships, Valkyries, unrequited love, and heroic death scenes. You probably know about Bat Out of Hell, and probably even Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. He also released his own album, Bad for Good, in 1980, and wrote the song’s for Meat Loaf’s mostly overlooked gem, Dead Ringer, that came out in 1981. He put together a girl band called Pandora’s Box that released the original version of his mega-hit “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” somewhere back there in the ‘80s, too. He’s a genius.
But this isn’t really about Jim Steinman, per se. I only mention him because he doesn’t get enough credit. What this is really about is how my wife and I finally – after a few decades of waiting – got to see Meat Loaf perform live this past Saturday night in Newkirk, Oklahoma. We were both fans before we met, which means we were singing along with Meat before 1980, when we were in our very early teens. Seeing Meat Loaf was always one of those lofty goals, one we never really thought we’d achieve, because the man just doesn’t come to Oklahoma and we’ve never been able to jetset to NYC or even Denver just to catch his show. So, when we learned he was playing two casinos in Okieland, going was a no-brainer.
Short of playing all night, the show was everything I could have hoped for. I mean, there were so many more songs I would have liked to have heard, but, you know, otherwise it was great. He played several songs off the first Bat and some off Bat II. He ignored Dead Ringer, Bad Attitude, Welcome to the Neighborhood, and Bat III, playing three off the (fairly) new Hang Loose Teddy Bear, and opening with “Hot Patootie” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The man is a hell of an entertainer. The casino’s hall appeared to be pretty well filled to its 1,400 capacity. We were toward the back, but still close enough to see the gleam in Meat’s eye as he sang to the crowd. He seemed to be enjoying it as much as we were. He sang, he told stories, he made jokes, he shot T-shirts from a weenie gun he swore was an exact replica of his penis, and he sang some more.
The icing on the cake? His female duet partner wasn’t a “stranger” he picked up for the tour. It was none other than Patti Russo. She has an absolutely amazing voice and really contributed to the show.
How does this show rate? Musically, it was one of the best I’ve seen. He doesn’t bring the pyrotechnics of Kiss or the volume of AC/DC, but song for song he put on one of the best shows I’ve seen.