"I don't consider myself a singer. I'm an actor," Meat Loaf told the crowd at DAR Constitution Hall Wednesday night. For much of the evening, however, Meat was in essence a talk show host, albeit an exceptionally long-winded one. The model may have been "Oprah," but the result ran longer than "Dances With Wolves."
The performance was billed as a "Storytellers" show, modeled on the VH1 program in which rock veterans recall how they came to write some of their notable tunes. Meat's best-known songs, however, were penned by Jim Steinman, the producer who crafted an ungodly (but massively influential) melange of heavy metal, Broadway show tunes and Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" for such '70s hits as "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad." Although Meat made numerous references to "Jimmy" Steinman during his rambling presentation, he didn't offer many insights into the songwriting process.
Instead, the performer sent several assistants into the audience with microphones, soliciting questions that might pique his memories and, perhaps, summon a song. The topics ranged from growing up fat and playing football to the vagaries of the music industry and Meat's role in "Fight Club." The queries sometimes led into performances of lesser-known songs, which the seven-piece band seemed to know better than the singer.
Like his music, Meat's patter was a mix of sentimentality and bluster, relying heavily on a popular but coarse four-letter word. The show entailed numerous props and much prepared shtick, as well as considerable audience participation.
The ultimate set piece was the performance of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," for which Meat brought onstage two previously unacquainted audience members. He had the man recline atop a desk and the woman straddle him, instructing them to make out during the part of the song where announcer Phil Rizzuto (on tape) counts off a couple's progress around the bases. They complied, to the spectators' intense amusement.
Presumably, the Daughters of the American Revolution will disband tomorrow.