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Bat's all folks after epic swan song

By Andrew Johnston

AFTER his last dreadful, undersold appearance at the Odyssey Arena in 2010, it didn't seem likely Meat Loaf would stalk a Belfast stage again.

But there he was last night, four decades, 80 million album sales and several farewell tours into an astonishingly durable career.

Dead Ringer for Love was almost unrecognisable until backing vocalist Patti Russo chimed in with the Cher parts, but supported by his long-time band, the Neverland Express, Loaf struggled through.

And the opening bars of Loaf's 1977 breakthrough opus sent the audience into overdrive. The hall was on its feet for Bat Out Of Hell's iconic title track, roaring along with the lyrics and marvelling at a giant, inflatable bat with red eyes that appeared midway through.

Sure, vocally, Loaf now struggles with the high notes – and let's face it, all the other notes as well – but his commitment to performing remains hugely endearing.

By the time he got to sing Two Out of Three Ain't Bad, what's left of his voice was failing him.

Still, the sheer quality of Jim Steinman's material, as well as the shameless theatricality of it all, made for a very entertaining evening. Loaf's diminished vocal ability knocks a star off this review, but four out of five ain't bad.

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