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September 19, 2014

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Photos + review: Meat Loaf’s ‘Rocktellz & Cocktails’ a modern-day Old Vegas, explodes with sensational songs, stage stunners

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Opening night of Meat Loaf in “Rocktellz & Cocktails” on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at Planet Hollywood.

Opening Night of Meat Loaf in ‘Rocktellz & Cocktails’

Opening night of Meat Loaf in Launch slideshow »

Rock opera singer Meat Loaf exploded with passion performing his hit songs at the debut of “Rocktellz & Cocktails” at Planet Hollywood. He delivers them just like a “Bat Out of Hell” with intense and furious voice. Meat shows that he’s all about extreme concentration.

Despite suffering pain from a still-unhealed hip injury, Meat stalks the stage and its two walkways into the audience like a relentless animal after its prey. He’s backed up by two of the sexiest and sizzling blonde-bombshell singers who are equals to his amazing voice. In Meat’s duets with them, they become one furious and fierce unit.

I also loved his lady piano player who controls the black and whites as if a magician. His band is one of the tightest and most exuberant groups of musicians seen and heard on the Strip in the past decade.

Meat zones out in tribal tightness as he sings. These are long songs with difficult high octaves, but even after celebrating his 66th birthday, he’s in fine shape for the arduous three-days-a-week shows. He’s as hip today as he was decades ago when he first recorded these giants.

The show is pure fun, a total delight for his fans and newcomers discovering him for the first time. He’s wrapped up this platinum package of Old Vegas shows into a modern-day winner complete with a loveable lineup of tap-dancing cuties, silly clowns, a man who bursts into flames, an acrobatic silks duo and a clumsy cleaver juggler all spoofing rival Cirque du Soleil shows. I suspect their artists and producers will be standing in line for tickets to see just what Meat is up to in his show.

It’s a high-value-production spectacular I never expected. I knew we’d get the songs: “Bat Out of Hell” complete with a theater full of white flying birds; “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with a dual-faced auto; “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That); and “From the Frying Pan Into the Fire. I just never expected the pelvic-thrust anthem “Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture” with the cast and audience joining in for the moves.

Meat played Eddie in the cult classic, and we see him perform those numbers against a huge video-backdrop wall playing the zany scenes — along with a lengthy, gratuitous, freeze-frame shot of Susan Sarandon in her bra.

The show is laced with humor. Who knew Meat was an ad-lib comedian when called upon? He’s got a loaded-and-ready-to-fire iPad with 59 sequenced answers to tackle any random questions the audience throws at him. This is unrehearsed, unscripted, unplanned and thus wholly unexpected. One press of his hand-held Apple, and up come photos, videos, posters and memorabilia that give him background to answer and then lead into a new song.

It’s all something totally different on the Las Vegas stage and might well start a trend of audience intimacy with the artist going one step beyond just the performance. As Meat said: “There’s no safety net here. There’s nowhere to hide — I have to answer whatever is asked of me.”

You can read my full, candid and revealing interview with Meat as he wrapped dress rehearsals last week before the premiere of the show produced by Adam Steck.

It’s a magical night of marvelous music, sensational songs, gorgeous girls, sexy surprises — and even fireworks and streamers are showered over the audience. Meat lets up from the onstage, tortured perfectionist that he is to fire out T-shirts from hand cannons, and the smile and laughter on his face let you know that he’s having the time of his life, although he never breaks the extreme mood when he’s singing at full force.

Little wonder the crowd jumped to its feet, sang and danced along — and gave him an extraordinary standing ovation at the end with lengthy applause, whistling and cheering. All well deserved!

It’s a monster show, a circus in its own right. You have until Nov. 6 to catch his three weekly shows because of the tough demands on the cacophony booming from his vocal chords. If there’s only one show you see, make it this one (but return for the others). Meat has suddenly and surprisingly set a new, old forgotten standard for the Strip — full entertainment extravaganza enjoyment.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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