I was a ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic fan from the instant “Eat It” made him popular. I like to joke around, and goofing on music – sometimes in a clever way, sometimes in an oddball way – appealed to me for a long time. I owned seven of his albums, everything from In 3-D to Alapalooza. He had one before that, and has released five since. I enjoyed the 13 episodes of the Saturday morning Weird Al Show, and his Al TV/Al Music video channel specials. Unlike most musical comedy acts he’s managed some sort of longevity.
I stopped enjoying the albums enough to buy them, though. I’m not sure he’s still appealing to the kids given the average age assembled at the Enmore Theatre last night. But I pretty much had to go.
The opening act was a comedian, decent and light on smut.
The show that Al put on was a nearly 2.5-hr set that was introduced with the “Fun Zone” instrumental from UHF and continued with one of Al’s polka mashups of contemporary songs, including Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Justin Bieber, and a bunch of US R&B that I’m (thankfully) unfamiliar with. The show continued – surprise, surprise – with funny song after funny song. There are, in the Weird Al canon, three types of songs apart from the polka mashups:
- Parodies, where he plays a popular song’s music but uses lyrics about another topic. Last night he played “White & Nerdy”, “Smells Like Nirvana”, and a well-received “Amish Paradise”.
- Style parodies, where he sings a song about something funny or topical that’s quite clearly in the style of a famous band, though not a direct mimic of one song. Some of these last night were “Dare To Be Stupid” (Devo-style) and “Craigslist” (The Doors).
- His original nutty songs. I was chuffed to hear the 16-second “Let Me Be Your Hog” and “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” (with hilarious guitar pump-fake). I wondered why a lame duck like “Frank’s 2000″ TV” was rolled out, though.
Some of the big songs were delivered in a medley: “Eat It”, “Beverley Hillbillies”, “Gump”, “Bedrock Anthem”, “Ode to a Superhero”, and “Another One Rides The Bus”, and people loved ’em. Ultimately we were all there for silly fun, and Al and the band delivered plenty of that. Al’s got plenty of energy and charisma onstage, and when the parodies are spot-on there was much cheering and laughing. The band were competent: never standing out above the comedy, but always playing well enough to make a believable parody, never distracting by sounding “off”.
Some of the more recent songs felt pretty flat to me because they’re just not funny: “eBay”, the snippet of “Trapped In The Drive-Thru”, and “Skipper Dan” for instance. “Canadian Idiot” was good, but I think it helps if you’re Canadian: a lot of the US-vs-Canada fun he pokes in that song could just as easily apply to Australia (or any country with public healthcare and manners). And Al’s homage to Charles Nelson Reilly (“CNR”) definitely didn’t work: how many Australians of any age would know who he was?
Three big screens showed videos or other funny imagery during songs. They also gave us non-stop clips of Al TV or other television and film references to Weird Al to allow the band costume changes between songs.
He finished the main set with “Fat”, including his full-on fat-suit and all the Michael Jackson moves. But the greatest crowd pleasers were the two Star Wars themed encore songs: “The Saga Begins” (done to the tune of “American Pie”) with a coterie of stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself onstage getting funky, and “Yoda” (done to the tune of “Lola”). The nerds in the Enmore couldn’t have been any happier.