When I first heard that I was going to review a show about Meatloaf, I expected a po-faced musical featuring the big rock star's greatest hits and a slim narrative devoid of humour. I was partly proved wrong, thankfully.
This musical extravaganza has been touring for 15 years now and has developed a huge following. This is largely due to Steve Steinman's superb meaty vocal delivery and the unexpected humour within the show which leaves the audience on a high.
Forget the story, there isn't one. The reliance on blurry video projections and a cheesy voice-over telling you how great the big man is, feels cheap and rather amateur. But once Steinman, the Mancunian with a voice to die for, amazing stage presence and a self deprecating wit, enters the ropey visuals are soon forgotten. This performer is more than Meatloaf-a-like; he has the ability to turn a placid audience into a bunch of clapping rockers.
Matching him in every way is the lovely Zoë Sharman who performs duets and impersonates Cher and Bonnie Tyler. She belts her tunes out to the rear of the stalls and back again, always aware that this isn't the best show in the world but her aim is to entertain.
"I Would Do Anything For Love" one of Mr Loaf's biggest hits is performed with verve by the talented duo and if you close your eyes, you can almost see the rock star, himself. Sharman also does a great version of Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" which has the audience rocking in the aisles.
The two guitarists Greg Barbacowby and Mary Garcia Garner provide great back up both musically and vocally.
Some parts of the show suffer from being too cabaret. The scripted humour is in poor taste and it could also do with trimming 20 minutes as it slightly outstays its welcome. But the sheer energy of the performers and Steinman’s natural northern humour wins through. He deals with hecklers with real panache and leaves them unable to respond to his quick fire wit.
Overall, this is not a slick evening but it is damn entertaining. It has many faults but any show which has this reviewer whistling Meat's greatest hits and smiling at the leading man's stage antics cannot be all bad.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Palace Theatre, Manchester)