I almost choked on my toast this morning as I heard the news that Meat Loaf had died. I’m a big music lover, but above all others his music has had the most lasting impact on my life.
Trisha, one of my oldest friends, first introduced me to his music as her parents were big fans. In the early 1990s, before he released Bat Out Of Hell II and everyone started wondering what he wouldn’t do for love, we would listen and sing along to Bat Out Of Hell on repeat in my dad’s front room. His first album, written by his long time collaborator Jim Steinman, who sadly died last year, deserves to be one of the biggest selling albums of all time. It’s a work of genius.
Many years later we heard he was touring. Trisha had seen him live before, so rather than booking tickets for his tour we took the decision to see Sugarbabes instead (money was tight back then and we couldn’t afford to do both). Whilst it was a good gig – despite being told by security to sit down. WTF?! It was a gig! – that decision haunted me for years. When his 2013 tour, The Last Bat, was announced, and reported to be his farewell tour, there was no decision to be made. I was going!
On 10 April 2013, Trisha and I headed to the London O2 arena geared up for an epic night of music. We were not disappointed! There was no support act. Instead, the Meat performed a selection of songs from his back catalogue to kick things off. After a short break he came back and performed Bat Out Of Hell in its entirety, with only a slight change to the order to ensure the night ended on a high.
By this time there were reports of his bad health, but that didn’t stop him put on a full energy performance, red hanky in hand to wipe away the sweat. In between songs there were videos and interviews with people who had worked with him, including the person who duetted with him on I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – spoiler: it’s not the brunette in the video. It really felt like this was him telling his story before bowing out of live music. He did do another tour in 2016, during which he collapsed on stage, but without a doubt The Last Bat was the tour to see him on.
In 2017, a musical based on Bat Out Of Hell premiered in Manchester. When it came to London’s Coliseum later that year, Trisha and I of course had to go. I’m not generally a fan of musicals based on someone’s back catalogue as the story is often so flimsy. In this case that may have also been true, but I still loved it. The production and performance of the songs was epic, especially Paradise By The Dashboard Light. We went again when it transferred to The Dominion Theatre in 2018. There’s not many musicals I’ve seen twice, yet alone in such close succession. I’d go and see it again if it was still on.
At karaoke nights, Dead Ringer For Love became one of my go to songs. It’s a mighty karaoke tune! Next time I get to do karaoke I’ll definitely be singing that in his honour – I’ll just need to find the right person to sing Cher’s part.
Of course Meat Loaf was known for more than just his music. His roles in films including The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, which I only saw a couple of years ago, will go down in cinema history.
As I headed into town this morning, fresh from hearing the news, I struggled to not sing along to his music out loud on the bus. They are anthems of rock music. The ultimate power ballads.
Meat Loaf may be gone, but with his music he has left a lasting legacy for generations to come.