I’ve been extremely fortunate to have seen some of my “concert bucket list” items in my lifetime. A few years ago I was able to catch both KISS and AC/DC in the same summer, which completely blew my mind and knocked off #1 and #2 from the list. I’ve seen Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Bryan Adams, and Def Leppard so I’ve had a pretty good ride (which is unusual only because I live in a relatively low populated area and big acts don’t come around too often).
One person who I never thought would come around FINALLY decided to do a tour of the area months ago. I never put him on my bucket list because I honestly thought I’d never be able to see him. Trust me…I never in a million years thought I’d ever be fortunate enough to see “Weird Al” Yankovic from the FRONT ROW!!!
I was actually shaking with excitement when Sunshine and I sat down. The view was spectacular and I couldn’t wait for the show to begin. I mean, I have been listening to Weird Al since 1983…and have ALWAYS been a fan (I even pre-purchased his most recent album on iTunes to ensure I got everything in a timely manner…lol). The seats were as awesome as I had hoped they were.
When the show started, Al appeared on the video monitors that highlighted the stage (one on each side and one on the back wall). In an identical gimmick to what he did on Conan last year, Yankovic sang Tacky live while walking through the back hallways of the casino, eventually appearing live in front of the crowd as the song was ending. What an unusual and extremely entertaining way to kick things off!
Next up was an original song from his latest album, Mandatory Fun. I’ve always been a fan of his original songs and can list a “Top 5 Originals” off the top of my head, but this one wouldn’t be one of those choices. Still…it’s Weird Al and it was live, so YEAH!!
Right after that came another song from the album, his latest in a series of “polka remixes” that appear on every album. This song was called Now That’s What I Call Polka! and was absolutely incredible to experience live, primarily because of the tempo changes in the song. His video screens showed the songs being parodied, just in case people didn’t know. At this point, Al left the stage to do the first of his MULTIPLE costume changes. To keep time moving along, the video screens would show clips from the past 35 years of Weird Al references in popular culture. You really don’t realize how much of a cultural icon Yankovic is until you see these different videos over the course of two hours and see just how influential he has been over the years. It’s incredible.
The next song is the only one that fell flat live. I think it’s really because the song itself isn’t very strong, and while I understand the need to play a Lady Gaga parody live in order to seem relevant, Perform This Way was more of a visual experience than a musical one. There are easily a dozen other songs I would have preferred to hear live, but I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining…just being honest. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how surprised and excited I was to hear the next song, the title track to Dare To Be Stupid. I hadn’t heard this tribute to DEVO in years but knew almost every single word because, along with In 3-D, this album was one of the classic Yankovic albums that I listened to repeatedly for months and months as a young teenager (I think we’re talking 1985/1986 for this album). An absolute classic came up next: Fat. The video screens introduced the song with the first couple of minutes of the video, then Al came out in full fat costume. It was just a fantastic experience to enjoy live. After another video package, Al came out to do another original from his latest album. This one, again, isn’t a favourite of mine but is still funny as hell because you can relate to it: First World Problems. This has become a fairly popular catchphrase in our household only because it’s hilarious to hear any of us complain about something trivial. We’re assholes like that.
My favourite track from Mandatory Fun was up next, along with props to help things along: Foil. This parody of the Lorde song “Royals” has become a popular live song because in the second chorus, Yankovic mentions wearing an aluminum foil hat to protect him from the aliens. At this point, various people from throughout the audience actually put foil hats on their heads. It was a little surreal, but I guess it’s all part of the fun. A classic Al parody came next: Smells Like Nirvana. It was funny because he attempted to recreate the incredible video by having two gorgeous cheerleaders behind him. They never appeared again for the rest of the show, so I then wondered just what in the heck their job was other than cheerleading. This song has gotta be hard on Yankovic’s pipes with all the screaming and whatnot. Next up was his first of two “compilation” songs, where he did a medley of some of his greatest hits. This particular set included some of my all-time favourites (Bedrock Anthem, Another One Rides The Bus, and eBay) in addition to some great fun like Party in the CIA… …Handy……Ode to a Superhero……Inactive (sung from a Lay-Z-Boy chair)……and Canadian Idiot. After another video package, I saw the outfit that Yankovic was wearing and thought it looked a little different. The music started and I immediately recognized it as Wanna B Ur Lovr, which is a “love song” made up of cheesy pick-up lines that sees Al go through the audience and “serenade” the ladies. Being seated in the front row meant that Yankovic eventually made his way over to our direction. And yes, he ended up singing a line or two DIRECTLY TO SUNSHINE!!
I was freaking out at this point, so between the lights and his moving and my jittery use of my phone, this is the best shot I could get of the moment: Honestly, I think I was more excited about Weird Al singing to my wife than she was. I probably shouldn’t brag about that too much…
Next up was an acoustic set, which was a pleasant surprise. Yankovic proceeded to play four of his all-time classic songs from the 80’s (including the one that got me hooked on Yankovic to begin with): Eat It, I Lost On Jeopardy, I Love Rocky Road, and Like A Surgeon. One of his newest hits was next and was one of the highlights of the night, simply because he came out on his Segway and proceeded to CRUSH the song: White & Nerdy! Another video package aired and Yankovic was ready to keep things going with (arguably) the most popular song from his last album: Word Crimes (a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke). I’ve said that Yankovic is a musical genius and I stand by that comment. All you need to do is watch the video for Word Crimes and you’ll understand what I mean. One final video package aired and it was time for one of his biggest hits: Amish Paradise. All band members donned big-ass beards for the performance and it was definitely a crowd pleaser. At this point, Al thanked everyone for coming and left the stage with his band. Of course, at this point every single fan of his knew that this wasn’t the end and knew exactly how the show as going to end. Sure enough, Yankovic and his band came out dressed-up in their Jedi outfits from Star Wars to sing The Saga Begins. It’s funny because I have always disliked the original “American Pie” by Don McLean, but I absolutely LOVE singing this version. The last song of the night was the one EVERYBODY was waiting for (and the lightsabers in the audience confirmed that). It was never released as a single (as far as I know), but for whatever reason his parody of “Lola” by the Kinks has taken on a life of its own and is his official closer every single show: Yoda!
To say that I enjoyed this concert would be a massive understatement. My face was hurting from smiling so much once it was all said and done. Thankfully, Sunshine enjoyed the concert, as well, even though she’s not a massive fan like me (she enjoys him, but that’s about it…lol).
“Weird Al” Yankovic is, indeed, a cultural icon who still, at 55, puts on one of the most incredible live performances you will ever see in your entire life. If you ever get the opportunity, I couldn’t imagine recommending seeing Yankovic live as much as I am right now. SEE HIM!!