Was Bob Dylan better than Meat Loaf? -- EW compares the Dylan charity concert to ''Bat Out of Hell'' on Broadway

By Jody Rosen and Simon Vozick-Levinson
December 27, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Was Bob Dylan better than Meat Loaf?

Nov. 2, 2006
Palace Theatre, NYC

THE EVENT: A slimmer than usual (but still very sweaty) Meat Loaf charged through songs from his new Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose and two previous Bat albums.

COST OF TICKET: $89-$250

PERFORMERS: Marion Raven, the, um, raven-haired Norwegian chanteuse, as well as a rock octet and 20-piece string orchestra.

ONSTAGE BANTER: The saddest words ever spoken by a rock star, introducing ”It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”: ”This song is top 10 in Norway…. Call your local radio station and tell them to play it!”

SPECIAL EFFECTS: None, but there were costume changes aplenty. The star opened in a Terrell Owens Dallas Cowboys jersey and changed into a variety of flowing silk shirts and three-quarter-length trench coats; his singers sported everything from skimpy cheerleader outfits to little black bat wings.

ENCORE: ”It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Raven and Meat Loaf do a Beauty and the Beast duet on this ballad popularized by Celine Dion.

BOTTOM LINE: The singer lent appealing schmaltz-drenched showmanship to cheese-rock epics like ”Paradise” and brought down the house with the power ballad ”I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” But the nü-metal-tinged songs from The Monster Is Loose dragged the concert down. B-Jody Rosen

Nov. 9, 2006
Avery Fisher Hall, NYC

THE EVENT: An eclectic slate of artists old and young interpreted their favorite Dylan tunes at a fund-raiser for the charity Music for Youth.

COST OF TICKET: $40-$1,000

PERFORMERS: Twenty-two acts in all, including Rosanne Cash, Cat Power, Al Kooper, Sandra Bernhard, and buzz band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. (Sadly, hopes that Zimmy himself might make a surprise appearance went unfulfilled.)

ONSTAGE BANTER: ”We’re gonna play what’s generally known as Dylan’s ultimate revenge song, and after Tuesday night’s election vote, I’m feelin’ it,” said Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo before launching into ”Positively 4th Street” with his other band, the Lee Ranaldo Project.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: None. This was the posh home of the New York Philharmonic, after all. Still, it was an impressive bit of stunt casting to put composer Philip Glass on piano during Natalie Merchant’s ”The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”

ENCORE: None, but the crowd joined Patti Smith, indie folkie Jennifer O’Connor, and 75-year-old Ramblin’ Jack Elliott in a poignant final singalong of ”Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

BOTTOM LINE: The tunes were top-notch, naturally; the best performances (Ryan Adams’ grungy ”Isis” and the heavy funk of the Roots’ ”Masters of War”) perfectly balanced reverence and reinvention. A-Simon Vozick-Levinson