I would do anything for love...
|Meatloaf's the blown-out blob in the right-hand corner!|
Cardiff is a great city. It's an energetic, young city - oh, it's been around for centuries, and has a castle in the centre, but only really started to grow with the industrial revolution. In 1800, according to a display we saw in the Pierhead (historic dock building), it had just 2,000 inhabitants. Coal brought trains and ships, and Cardiff grew rapidly, becoming an attractive city. And it knows how to party. Oh boy, can Cardiff party. If Cardiff went on a bender, only Madrid would be able to keep up, and it still couldn't match Cardiff drink for drink. Yet for all the liveliness of the brewery quarter, the city's club and publand, it's feels happy and cheery, not rough.
We stayed at Cardiff's oldest hotel, the Royal Hotel. Cardiff's got lots of cheapie hotels, and we've stayed in them before, but you can stay at the Royal for pretty much the same money (in fact, I think we paid less for the Royal than we did for a dingy cheapie near the train station last time we were in town). And they gave us a room upgrade and a bottle of wine. And Liz Taylor and Richard Burton stayed there in the 1960s when he took her to watch rugby. There's a site devoted to the history of Cardiff's Royal Hotel. In the late 1990s the building was completely gutted and the ground and first floors converted into bars, so sadly there are no historic interiors now, apart from the Captain Scott Room, whose panelling was carefully removed and then reconstructed on the second floor. But it's centrally located, spotlessly clean, nicely decorated and jolly comfy. Next time we go to Cardiff we will definitely stay there again.
And so, Meatloaf. The thing I hate about his music is precisely the thing Mr Robot loves about it: the overblown theatricality of it all. It's like all those over-sentimental 1950s songs such as 'Tell Laura I Love Her' arranged by Wagner for a rock band. And it works brilliantly on stage. Those songs were made for the stage. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Meatloaf live. He's a genuine showman - he sees himself as an actor rather than a musician - who doesn't take himself too seriously and puts on a proper show. Before the band came on stage, the Beatles' 'When I'm Sixty-four' was played, which made me warm to things immensely.
Meatloaf's voice is shot, and there were points in the first half where I was terrified he was going to have another heart attack, but when he got it right, he got it really right. The other musicians were excellent, and the arrangements and backing vocals helped carry over any difficult patches - and this was Wales; the audience were singing along beautifully too. There was video footage matched to the music playing at the back of the stage, a piano with hot rod flames painted on (who wouldn't love a hot rod piano)... lots to see. Even though I'm not keen on the music, I'm familiar with an awful lot of it. They played an awful lot of it too: no support band, the gig was split into two halves and the second half was the entire 1977 Bat Out of Hell album. The man gives you your money's worth. All Meat, no filler.
I still won't be listening to Meatloaf's music at home, and he's probably doing the right thing making this his last tour, but I wish I'd seen him on tour 20 years ago now!