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October 20, 2014

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Q+A: Meat Loaf adds content in second round of ‘Rocktellz & Cocktails’ in bid to extend run

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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 »

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and actor Meat Loaf, who kicked off the inaugural run of “Rocktellz & Cocktails” at Planet Hollywood in September, is returning with a second go-round and hopes that there will be more shows this year.

“Rocktellz” creator Adam Steck told me: “He’s one of the world’s most exceptional and electrifying artists, and we’re ecstatic to bring him back where he’ll expand on his unbelievably successful debut run.”

Planet Hollywood President David Hoenemeyer said: “We are thrilled. Meat Loaf and his unique show combined with our recently launched Britney Spears show in our newly renovated Axis theater makes Planet Hollywood the place to see and be seen this year.”

Meat Loaf’s first engagement raised more than $10,500 for the Grammy Foundation, and a portion of tickets sold in the next series will benefit the Signature Community Award program for high school music programs here.

Meat Loaf gets intimate with revealing, personal, behind-the-scenes stories of his 47-year music, stage and film career, plus, a full-on rock concert with his hit songs including “Bat Out of Hell,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and the giant “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

My review of Meat Loaf Round 1 was posted on Sept. 30. Now he’s ready for Round 2 and whatever the future may hold. I talked with him as he planned his Feb. 13 return with 24 dates through April 8 and rotating with The Jacksons.

You decided to make it a little longer this time around.

Well, they did, not me! I had to say yes, but I did have fun. When I left, I said, “Well, I hope we get to do this again.” Then Adam said, “Oh, we will.” And I said, “OK!” You don’t believe anything, though, until it actually happens. Adam kept saying, “We’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it,” and then when I got back home, I was in a coma because I worked all year long. They kept calling and saying it’s happening, and I said, “l’ll believe it when I see it.”

Let’s think of it as a long rest to recover from a nonstop year. Are you out of that coma?

Sort of. My eyes started going bad, but I don’t want to get into all this medical stuff. I’m going to sound like the “The Sunshine Boys.” It’s unbelievable. Getting old is a drag; you start falling apart. In the summer, I had to have a cornea transplant, and I had my wisdom teeth taken out, and, oh, it’s just been insane. I’ve just been going from doctor to doctor; I’m falling apart. I’m waiting for my legs to fall off soon.

No, no, we won’t let that happen. Maybe you have to get back to drinking more and partying more?

I think that I’ve done all of that already! The biggest headache was fighting the dry air and having humidifiers running day and night. All seven big ones are sitting there waiting for me, and we’re bringing more. We got more as the show went on when we were there before.

I’m like in a prisoner-release program. I go from my humidified room to a humidified room to the stage, where there are humidifiers, then it’s back to the humidified dressing room and back to the humidify department.

It’s obviously so necessary for you. I’m guessing dry Vegas throat is the real reason why you do only three shows a week?

Everybody who does Las Vegas seems to suffer with it one way or another. Everybody’s house who sings in Las Vegas is humidified around 72 to 73 percent humidity in there. We set it that way for the huge six-gallon capacity ones each lasting about a day and a half.

Meat Loaf at The Joint

Meat Loaf at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Aug. 20, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Are you changing the show at all from the last go-round?

Just a tiny bit, a little bit. I’ve got a couple of new things in the beginning and an added thing in the middle, but we won’t tell you what they are. However, I have fixed my iPad problem that controlled everything onstage. It would work fine for two shows, then it would all of a sudden fall apart and not work at all. We have fixed that problem, so it should work fine.

In one of the meet-and-greets, a guy showed up and the technology he was into was exactly what we needed for my iPad. How to block the cell phone, how to improve the transmission, how to shield it properly, so we called him.

He’s just a fan, but it goes to show you what my meet-and-greets are like. I get so deep into who these people are, of what they do, where they live, what they did growing up and where they went to school. My meet-and-greets are like a U.N. conference. This guy knew everything there was to know about an iPad controlling my onstage show. Don’t worry; it wasn’t Edward Snowden!

As a rock performer, do you like this format of mixing your music with secret stories of your past?

I love this format. I’ve realized that a lot of my stuff now that I’ve gone through the show now was going over people’s heads. My wife says, “Gosh, you’re so up above people’s heads, you’ve got to make it clearer, you’ve got to clarify stuff.” So I’ve been working on that. People didn’t understand this character Rabbit that I developed back in 1972, so now we have photos of him and spank him for doing the opening introductions. Now everybody understands.

What else did you learn from your first run that you’re going to incorporate in the second run?

Just to clarify, I think people come to see a concert, and it’s not a concert. It’s a full-blown rock-on show. I get to be funny and show clips and pictures and talk about things all woven around the hits and other performance attractions. I want to make it more intimate — like having the audience in my living room.

Does the second run possibly lead to a third or more this year? Is this something you’d come back on a regular basis to do if invited?

I don’t know, but if the second run is as good or better than the first, I’d love to come back. We’d keep coming back if it all goes well each time. I’m beginning to like Las Vegas. I like doing the show. I don’t like the fact that it’s so dry and I’m kind of trapped in a room and can’t talk. That I don’t like, but I love doing the show.

So having made the commitment to Las Vegas, what does that do with tour dates?

When we finished the tour in Europe last spring, I wrote about Las Vegas on Facebook and said that I was retiring from touring. That doesn’t mean I’m retiring from doing shows. The Internet blogs drove me nuts saying I was retiring. The Internet is a place for liars and haters. I’m only retiring from the touring. I’m continuing with this show in Las Vegas, and I’m continuing with my acting.

Click to enlarge photo

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

Click to enlarge photo

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

It’s really hard when you have to travel. I wish that I was U2 or Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi, and you get on private planes all the time. That makes it much simpler, and you can go when you want to. I don’t have that. You have to travel commercial, you have to go on their schedule, and it’s hard. On days off when it’s imperative that I rest my voice, I don’t speak. I go into airports, and people talk to me, and I look at them and don’t talk back; they think I’m a jerk.

I’m not, so I have my assistant come up and explain that I’m not being a jerk, I’m just not talking so I can not lose my voice. Sometimes people do walk away muttering, “OK, fine, you want to be that way.” I’m trying to save my voice. I’ve got anywhere from 5,000 to 17,000 people who spent $50 for a ticket, and that’s the priority.

I’m sorry, I like you and I’m glad you’re a fan, but you didn’t buy a ticket this very minute. People have priorities and entertainers have priorities, and the priority for me is the audience who is coming to see me and hear me sing.

Singing the way you do, it must be even tougher in Las Vegas to talk because of the dry desert air.

Yes, so I don’t. The only time I talk is a little between 3 and 6 p.m. and of course the entire 95 minutes of singing and talking the show. The rest of the time, I’m stone cold silent.

This time we’re going to start a little earlier because I went over the contracted 90 minutes every time. One night, we ran right into the “Dancing Queen” show that followed us — just 7 minutes before their curtain was due to go up. I had to go apologize to them. Their cast liked the show and would come watch and tell me they loved it. The people who run the concessions, the ushers and ticket sellers came to see the show and told me, “We love your show.”

When you get that response from those people who have seen everything, you’re doing something right. I’m not going to tell you that every night I was perfect because that’s just not going to happen, but when those people come back and the people in the other show and the people who work on the show go out of their way to tell you that they liked your show, you feel like, “OK, I’ve done something right.”

With the other show gone, I’m able to work with the whole ceiling. So I have somebody flying in on the silks — really great. We’ve added some effects since I can do a longer show because we’re starting a half hour early. That’s let us put in another song and additional elements.

Meat Loaf will perform Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Jacksons, with special video clips from Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson, start Feb. 20 and continue through April 27, rotating on the nights Meat Loaf rests his voice.

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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