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Meat Loaf (March 4, 2007)

Work has been nuts. In theory, I get an EDO every two weeks, but until today, I haven’t used one since January. And until this weekend, I hadn’t come to Saskatoon since January. That last trip was on Royal Rumble weekend; the Rumble is a pay-per-view pro wrestling event that some friends and I get together to watch. Probably my favourite wrestling show of the year. There is junk food and gambling and hilarious jokes and the feeling that it is an Event and not just an event.

Leaving Dave’s house after the show, Josy was driving me home. Offhandedly, he mentioned that he had picked up two tickets to Meat Loaf in Edmonton, and did I want to go? I said that it would depend on work and weather, but I should be able to make it.

Royal Rumble weekend was also notable because that week, I had been offered a job in Saskatoon with another company. Long story short, we could not come to terms, which made the choice easy, since I like my company right now and don’t really want to leave them. I declined the job, and they wished me well in my future endeavours. I did feel bad about passing up the chance to move back to Saskatoon though, as I think I would be a lot happier there.

There’s an old joke about a flood; a guy is stuck on the roof of his house, and boat after boat comes by, offering to take the guy to safety. “No thank you,” the guy says, “God will look after me.” Then the flood waters rise higher and the guy drowns. The guy goes to Heaven and says “God, I always believed you would save me. Why did you fail me?” God replies, “What are you talking about? I sent boat after boat to come pick you up.”

The week after the Rumble, I got a series of major projects at work, with lots of meetings, mad panicked deadlines, and overtime, culminating in a day where I stayed at work overnight to finish up a project. Now, granted, lots of people have it much worse than I do, but I kind of felt that God was saying “I’ll show YOU for not taking my boat to Saskatoon.”

Between the workload and the weather, the Edmonton trip was on and off and on and off and on and off. And then came Saturday – the roads sounded okay, work had calmed down to a point where I could duck out for a day or two, and I basically said “to hell with it.” I was off to see Meat Loaf.

I drove to Saskatoon on Saturday afternoon and spent the evening with Mika. A quiet night – we went for Quizno’s, hit a grocery store so I could buy some baby-cut carrots for the trip to Edmonton (I didn’t eat them on the road, but I am eating them right now), drove around a bit, and then went home and watched some Chappelle’s Show, which I’d never actually watched before. It turns out that it’s funny, so I’m glad it got popular. You know, like five years ago or whatever.

Sunday morning, I rolled out of bed at about 7:30 – a half-hour later than I had planned – and showered and changed and packed and whatnot. Josy called while I was in the shower, and then picked me up around 8:30, so I don’t think I held things up that badly.

The drive to Edmonton was uneventful. We ate Weight Watchers chocolate cakes and listened to all three Bat Out of Hell albums in order. I’m pretty sure that makes us sound like girls, but whatever, the cakes are tasty. We got to Edmonton in good time and quickly found both Rexall Place and West Edmonton Mall, which was especially impressive because we were bravely traveling mapless. We also found the Super 8 that Dave and I stayed at when we came to Edmonton to watch a WWE Smackdown taping. Josy and I found this hotel by accident much easier than Dave and I did when we were actually looking for it. I had to explain to Josy how the hotel was secretly hidden, seeing as how it’s not on the street it claims to be – not only that, but you can’t even see it from the street that it claims to be on.

The mall was the mall. It’s like any other mall you’ve ever been to, except it’s bigger. It has a bunch of stores that your local malls have, except they’ve stuck extra stuff onto the mall, like a waterpark and a skating rink and a theme park and a submarine ride. I kind of wanted to see the shark show but we were pressed for time.

Didn’t actually buy much at the mall. I found a neat new/used videogame store that carried some imports, but the prices were so ridiculous that I couldn’t have been bothered. I get that it’s expensive to rent space in West Edmonton Mall, but if a Wii controller costs $45 in Regina, there’s no reason to jack it up to $79.99 in the mall. In the end, apart from a few presents for Mika (aww), all I bought was a book on low-fat Indian cooking. I have become quite the fan of Indian food, so I figure I should learn how to make some.

Lunch at the mall was purchased in the food court. Josy got Arby’s, but I went to ROASTY JACK. Before leaving for the mall, Mika and I looked through a list of store names, and that one stood out as being amusing, so I went there. It was… okay. Roast beef or turkey and sides. Basically, you know how you’ll make yourself a plate of leftover turkey on the day after Thanksgiving? It was a restaurant that served plates like that, kinda. It was okay. Nothing I’d race back for.

Not sure what else I have to say about the mall. There were a lot of Edmonton Oilers in the mall at autograph signings, so there were a lot of Edmonton Oilers fans in Edmonton Oilers Jerseys. We went up to the movie theatre to watch the dragon spit fire. Josy bought some cookies. We almost bought cans of spotted dick at the English import store, but we planned to come back and get them right before leaving, and then we didn’t get a chance.

After the mall closed, we had lots of time before the show, so we drove around and looked for a sit-down restaurant. We drove through an area that had signs saying they did not tolerate prostitution, but the local convenience store was named the “Joy Ho.” Eventually, we found a Boston Pizza. The server brought us menus, brought us drinks, and then he just never came back. After a half hour of trying to get someone’s attention, we left and went to Subway. I left money on the table to pay for the drinks and Josy was very disappointed in me. “A wiseguy never pays for his drinks.”

Really, I go to Boston Pizza because I’m on Weight Watchers and I know how to account for every item on the menu, but this is just the latest in a long list of incidences of crappy service. I can think of three others without even trying. I’d like to say that I won’t be back anytime soon, but we both know I’m stupid.

For what it’s worth, my Subway foot-long turkey sandwich was really good.

There was a limo in the Subway mini-mall parking lot. We believe this was Meat Loaf’s limousine, and it had stopped to get donuts from Sir Donut, which was next door to the Subway. We have no proof of this and it’s most assuredly not true and Sir Donut wasn’t even open at the time, but I don’t care. Meat loves his Sir Donut.

We found our way to Rexall Place parking with no trouble. There were signs all over saying that the parking lot was slippery, but it really wasn’t. Meanwhile, the lot at West Edmonton Mall was almost impossible to walk on because there was so much super-slick ice and no traction whatsoever. Arena 1, mall 0.

After our dinner debacle, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to get to our seats. Josy stopped to buy some Meat Loaf stuff before we sat down. He got a program, a t-shirt, and some other stuff. I got nothing. This was not a concert, this was a Concert, and the prices rise accordingly. I didn’t feel like paying $40 for a shirt that I’d never wear.

We took our seats a few songs into the opening act, Marion Raven. She sings well and she’s pretty. Not sure I have much more to add. Since we came in late and missed the introduction, we had a long debate over who she was, which was kind of silly since there were Marion Raven shirts for sale so who else would this be, right?

Then came Meat Loaf, and whoa. There were probably close to 10,000 people there and they were excited. Not that you wouldn’t expect people to be excited to see a guy that they had paid to see, but still. These people REALLY wanted to see Meat Loaf. The band took the stage and then out came Sir Loaf himself. They ripped through a shortened version of All Revved Up (With No Place To Go) (you know the song, admit it) (Josy is going to complain if I mess up the parentheses in these titles) before moving on to Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

I had actually seen Meat once before – Josy and I had travelled to Hartford in 1996 to see friends, and the timing of the trip was based around the concert and some other events. This was a few months before the invention of the Stupid Little Concert Reviews. Back at that show, Paradise closed the show (before the encore, anyway), so I was surprised to see it this early in the set this time. In fact, the first half of the show (there is an intermission because Meat’s doctors won’t let him perform for more than an hour and a quarter at a time, says Josy) consisted solely of songs from Bat Out Of Hell I and II. In short, if you don’t know all of Meat Loaf’s songs, the first half would all be songs you know, and the second half featured newer, less well-known songs. Seemed like an odd order to me.

This leads to a problem I had with this whole show. The first time I saw Meat Loaf, I had no idea what to expect, and so I was blown away by the energy and effort and theatrics. This time, I was expecting energy and effort and theatrics, and yeah, they were there. The first show was helped by my lowered expectations, and the second show was hurt by my raised expectations. That’s nobody’s fault but mine, though.

Back to the show. Paradise was entertaining, mostly due to Aspen Miller (and her outfit) (possibly mostly her outfit). She performed the duet with Meat; I can’t imagine it’s easy to step into a fairly legendary song, but she handled it well.

Other songs you might know: Life Is A Lemon (And I Want My Money Back); I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That); You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth; Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are (a shortened version); Bat Out Of Hell (ended the second set); Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad (Josy had never seen this performed live before and he was quite excited; he’s traveled to see Meat in Hartford as mentioned, but also Toronto and Winnipeg).

Songs you might not know: The Monster’s Loose; Seize The Night (they only played a part of this coming out of intermission – Josy was sad that they didn’t play the whole thing); If It Ain’t Broke, Break It; Bad For Good (not as awful as when Jim Steinman sings it).

Songs you might know, but not as performed by Meat Loaf: Gimme Shelter; as well, Marion Raven returned for the encore, performing a duet of It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, which was written for Meat (if you believe Meat) but made famous by Céline Dion.

That’s a lot of songs, and they’re not exactly short songs. With the intermissions and opener, the show ran over three hours. Fun time. I’d go see Meat Loaf again. Which is kind of funny, given that I wouldn’t admit that I was going to see Meat Loaf in the first place. People at work were asking why I was going to Edmonton, and I’d say “oh… you know… the mall…”

Anyway, we got out of the show at about 11:00 Edmonton time, or midnight Saskatoon time. So the only sensible thing to do was to drive straight back to Saskatoon. Obviously. Josy’s job was to drive. Mine was to keep him talking and awake, and to remind him to turn his brights off for oncoming traffic. By the time we got into Saskatoon, it was after 5:00 a.m. and I was having a hard time putting together coherent sentences. The new Wheat and Honey Sun Chips kept me going for a while, but only for so long. Then I slept until noon, and then spent a few hours writing this. Good times!

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