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MEAT LOAF 3 Bats Live Mercury Records (2007)
The trilogy continues...


The year is 1993. Location: port of Taranto/Italy. Miles away from home, a young officer of the Greek Navy is sitting alone in a dark bar lost in his thoughts, when all of the sudden the video wall of the bar's DVD jukebox starts projecting what looks like the beginning of a Hollywood movie. Having focused his attention on an array of professional and impressive visual effects and brilliant acting performances, the young officer is soon consumed by the rhythmical tunes and beautiful vocal melodies of an emotional power ballad. The song is called "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" and the artist is Meat Loaf.

Many years have passed since that very day. The young officer is finally released from the navy and after having changed a few jobs in his homeland decides to move to the United Kingdom where, as a hobby, he begins writing reviews for a very promising website. One day, the author of this text is asked whether he would be interested in prepare a review for a DVD release called "3 Bats Live". The artist is no other than Michael Lee Aday, better known to the music world as Meat Loaf. A nice coincidence? Maybe, but more than anything it is a unique opportunity to catch up with the career of a very charismatic artist whose music has become the soundtrack of a very hard and turbulent era in this writer's life.

This DVD comes a year after the release of the third installment of the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy - an album that became gold straight after it was released, and the idea behind it was to capture Meat Loaf performing the best moments from all three albums in selected arenas throughout the world. The task is enormous, seeing as Meat Loaf is now a sixty year old man and his songs are renowned for being vocally demanding; still, this huge production gets on the road and the result is both visible and audible in this double DVD release.

Throughout the years, Meat Loaf has acquired a very strong and faithful following of all ages and colours and it due to the powerful bond that has been created between the two that we are now talking about one of the most passionate and emotional live performances that I have seen on video in years.

The set list is carefully divided into three equal parts, each representing a part of the trilogy and quite expectantly the show starts with "All Revved Up With No Place To Go" from the artist's first multi platinum release. The crowd is awakened by the beautiful sounds of the saxophone and responds with a standing ovation when Meat Loaf appears on stage wearing a wig!

One after the other, classic compositions such as "Out Of The Frying Pan (and Into The Fire)" and "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" are presented by the imposing bard and even though his voice comes across as considerably tired, the chemistry between him and the female vocalist Aspen Miller and the support he receives from the numerous and highly skillful members of his band are enough to guarantee the success of the show.

Whereas I was deeply moved by the performance of "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)", I was completely taken aback by the intensity of "The Monster Is Loose" which lacks nothing in terms of power compared to any average Heavy Metal composition. Meat Loaf's interaction with the crowd is constant and colorful, not only when introducing "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are", but also during the performance of the classic opus "Bat Out Of Hell", after which he leaves the stage to the sound of a long and well-deserved standing ovation. Upon his return to the stage, Meat Loaf performs four more compositions, one of which is "It's All Coming Back To Me Now", whilst sharing the stage with the Norwegian female singer Marion Raven and the other being a cover of the Rolling Stone classic "Gimme Shelter" which signalled the end of an almost two and a half hour show.

I always believed that a real artist is a person that allows their art to become much bigger than they are and that is exactly the reason why I managed to enjoy this DVD release so much, without taking into consideration a very important hurdle, namely, Meat Loaf's often fading voice.

With a willpower capable of putting many young people to shame, Michael Lee Aday will almost certainly bring joy not only to the fans of his music, who will definitely be pleased by the numerous bonus material (the artist's latest videos and two documentaries), but also to someone like me whose musical orientation is normally more heavy and aggressive in form. Great show, great audience, breathtaking performances - I think you need to get your hands on this one, guys!


Review by John Stefanis

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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