At the end of last week, Jim Steinman’s Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical opened in Manchester. An everyday story of street gangs, young love, tyranny, jealousy and rebellion, it’s not — as you might assume — a best-selling album turned into a stageplay. Instead, it’s the musical Steinman originally envisaged. For while Steinman borrowed from rock’n’roll’s wild spirit and rebellion to make Bat Out Of Hell, he always had his eyes set on the stage.
“I never really saw classical music and rock ‘n’ roll as different,” Steinman told Classic Rock in 2000.” I still don’t. I grew up liking extremes in music - big gothic textures. I never have much regard for more subtle stuff. Dire Straits may be good, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I was attracted to William Blake, Hieronymus Bosch, I couldn’t see the point in writing songs about ordinary, real-life stuff.”
Steinman’s stage piece Neverland was the start. A still-evolving project, back in 1975 it featured three songs that eventually made their way onto Bat Out Of Hell: Paradise By The Dashboard Light, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad and For Crying Out Loud, all tales of teen lust and longing.
“I was a teenager right when sex was going from being overly repressed in the early 60’s to totally free in the 70’s and it was very confusing,” says Steinman. “Shit, I remember shaking like a leaf the first time I was having sex. Terrified I was doing everything wrong, and a little bit horrified.”
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The songs appealed to Meat Loaf, the man mountain who became the target of Steinman’s creativity, and the two decided to develop a seven-song set they could record on an album. The rest, as they say, is history and 40 million sales.
Now it’s come full circle. The Neverland songs Steinman intended for the stage are finally where he intended, with the Bat Out Of Hell musical showing at Manchester Opera House until April 8 before relocating to the London Coliseum in June. The show features two new songs, What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most and Not Allowed To Love.
Back in 2000 Meat Loaf said this would never happen. “It’ll never end up as a stage show,” he said. “It can’t. I mean, it just won’t.”
He was wrong. Tickets are on sale now.
All images: Specular