A special string of candlelit concerts kicked off in Leicester last night, in tribute to the iconic rocker Meat Loaf who passed away in January, calling hundreds of rockers to the city’s Athena and leaving ‘Not a Dry Eye in the House’.
Meat Loaf by Candlelight took place last night at Leicester’s Athena events venue (Sunday, May 8), with hundreds of candles packing the stage, and hundreds of fans turning out to pay homage to the much loved musical heavyweight.
Walking into the venue as a huge Meat Loaf fan myself, I was immediately struck by the impressive and almost gothic aesthetic which is synonymous with his music and iconography, and the special ambiance which was created as a result.
There was a special and almost spiritual reverence as details of Meat Loaf’s life and career were read out inbetween songs. You got a sense that this was more than just a concert, but something much more profound – a place for fans to come together to remember the man, pay their respects and also reflect on their loss.
The show started with what is undeniably one of Meat Loaf’s biggest hits – the legendary ‘Bat Out of Hell’, with vocalist Richard Hadfield stepping up to the mic, and belting out every word with undeniable passion, and unstoppable power.
To sing one of these songs from start to finish is no mean feat – but Hadfield passed the test and them some, leaving audience members with no doubt that they were in for an incredible night of live music. This guy isn’t Meat Loaf, but wow can he sing, and with the incredible vocal stamina required!
He was backed by three very accomplished classical musicians – a piano player, cello and violinist.
The three performed with great flow, feeling and sensitivity, in particular the pianist who played Jim Steinman’s hits with perfect precision.
Hadfield kept the energy high throughout, with great stage presence and lively banter.
However, he left the stage midway through in order to allow the musicians to shine (and possible to catch himself a breather!)
The three performed a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Heaven Can Wait’, a beloved ballad taken from Meat Loaf’s debut album, and one which was particularly poignant in the context of Meat Loaf’s relatively recent passing.
To quote another beloved Meat Loaf song, by the time it had finished there was definitely ‘Not a Dry Eye in the House’.
Other highlights of the show, included a soul stirring rendition of the classic ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’, (where the Cello player really shone), and also ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’, which saw the violin player step up to the mic to provide the female vocals required.
Although less certain when singing on her own, the blend of her charming voice together with Hadfield’s powerhouse vocal, was really something to behold. At one point I was pretty sure that when they hit their stride, they would raise the roof of the Athena – an iconic art deco building which has stood in Leicester for over 85 years.
If there was one criticism of the show however, (which I really enjoyed), it was that some of the lyrics of the songs were slightly misplaced throughout – something which I couldn’t really ignore as a Meat Loaf fan (and someone who knows his back catalogue almost inside out).
If the performers were to iron this out for future shows, it would be truly phenomenal – a performance worthy of an ovation from the almighty Meat himself.
By Louise Steel
Catch Meat Loaf by Candlelight at a string of venues over the Summer including Coventry’s Rialto Plaza on June 12, and Birmingham’s Midland Art Centre on June 4.