Belfast Telegraph

Meat Loaf is giving up life on the road

Martin Breen

More than 35 years after he released Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf is giving up life on the road, but retirement? He won’t do that!

While his Last At Bat tour, which arrives in Belfast on May 14, will be his final one, he revealed to Sunday Life that he has a litany of projects coming up including two new albums, a Las Vegas stage show, a Meat Loaf Rocks the Paranormal ghosthunting TV series and more movie roles.

Born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas in 1947, he changed his first name to Michael in 2001 but we all know him by his stage name Meat Loaf. His album Bat Out Of Hell, released way back in 1977, is still one of the best selling albums of all time (43 million copies sold to date).

And it is a concert in Antrim in 1982 that he counts as one of the best he has ever done.

In an interview with Sunday Life in his London hotel suite, Meat told me that his 1982 gig at Antrim Forum was the best he had played up to that point. That’s saying something considering that was five years after Bat Out Of Hell was first released.

And I truly believed him as he began to describe the venue in detail, adding: “The crowd at that gymnasium was unbelievable, up to that point it was the best crowd we had ever played for.”

Sitting with the star for an hour it is clear he is pretty straight-talking so I asked him if this really is the last tour, and he was pretty adamant.

The 65-year-old singer and actor, who had made 12 studio albums and 59 films, has suffered a string of health problems of late. Ten years ago he had heart surgery, four years later he

developed cysts on his throat and late last year he had to have a knee replacement after injuring it while filming serial killer movie Stage Fright, with actress Minnie Driver. To add to that he told me he also suffers from balance problems.

“My equilibrium of balance is, after 18 concussions, getting worse and over the last few years I would stumble somewhat on stage because I close my eyes a lot and I run into things and they’d say I was drunk. No I’m not drunk, I just have had 18 concussions.

“Cars rolling into rivers, wheels on airplanes not coming down, hydraulics on airplanes giving out, wings hitting the runway, wrapped around telephone poles, hit with shot puts, 18 concussions and hundreds and hundreds of stitches,” he laughed.

“They’ve got an advertisement in America saying ‘Someone over the age of 65 will fall every 10 minutes’, well I don’t want to break my hip on stage.

“Stage Fright was the movie that really finished my knee off as there was a lot of stunts. I kept taking over from the stuntman as he wasn’t doing things the way I saw them going on. I got hit with frying pans and thrown over tables.”

He has been greatly annoyed by criticism of some of his performances in recent years, including claims he was drunk on stage after he stumbled, so much so that he has now stopped reading a lot of what is published about him, especially on the internet.

“It really makes me mad. I would never write anything about anyone or anything unless I 100 per cent knew the facts of the situation.

“When people just assume things and write things that have no factual basis I find that intolerant and ignorant.

“I did read those things but I have stopped now because I started reading about everyone else, Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Adele or whoever, it was just like ‘what’s wrong with all you people’?

“I really think the internet sites should stop allowing comments, what you are getting are these people who are really hateful and spiteful and a lot of them haven’t even been to a show they might talk about. They are jealous, they think they’re better.

“If you’re a singer who thinks you’re better than anybody then you’re just wrong. You need to get over that.

“The people that want to write positive things don’t go on and write because the people are so negative |and just lambast anyone who writes any positive things,” he added.

Despite his health problems, Meat has a busy diary over the coming year. The star, who has featured in a string of films including Fight Club and The 51st State, has recently completed two movies, Stage Fright with Minnie Driver and The Moment with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

But his fans also have two new albums to look forward to, a compilation of duets called Hot Holidays, which sees him team up with stars including Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire and actress Juliette Binoche.

His other album, Brave and Crazy, sees him join forces again with pro

ducer/songwriter Jim Steinman, the man behind the first two of his classic Bat Out Of Hell albums.

While they have had disputes in the past, which resulted in legal action, Meat now describes their relationship as “great”.

“We have got four tracks for it and I have three more to cut and then I have another Jim song to cut. I have Dave Berg and another writer in Nashville writing me a couple more songs about being crazy.

“I should just write my own song about being crazy!”

A Las Vegas stage show, Rocktails and Cocktails, is set for a four week run but that could be extended.

He is also excited about becoming a TV ghost hunter for the Syfy channel, saying he is regularly visited by supernatural spirits.

Admitting he has no idea when his two albums will be completed due to his packed schedule, the rock legend added: “I’m going to keep acting. We are going to do four weeks in Vegas and see if we can pick up another 16 for next year.

“I have just signed a deal with Syfy in America to do a ghost-hunting show with my daughters Amanda and Pearl and my son-in law, Scott Ian from Anthrax.

“We still have to finish the tour which will cover more of America and South Africa and Indonesia and India.”

For his Last At Bat tour he will perform in two acts, one being the Bat Out Of Hell album and the other will be a selection of hits from the past four decades, including favourites such as Dead Ringer for Love and I Would Do Anything for Love as well as tracks from his most recent albums, Hell in a Handbasket and Hang Cool Teddy Bear.

And he clearly genuinely cares about his fans, talking about the sacrifices they make for a night at his concert. He lists the costs of new clothes, babysitters, carparking and drinks as well as the tickets.

“All of things come into play when you have an audience so I owe that audience all I have to give at that particular moment,” he said.

“Success is about your work and when I walk off a stage I always ask myself if I gave everything I had to give at that moment in time.”

I have yet to met a performer who at the age of 65 gives more energy and puts more heart in to his show than Meat Loaf. A rare quality and worth seeing for yourself at his final curtain call in Belfast.

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