You might have heard the quote: “Comedy is a serious business.” At The Newport, on June 11tht, it was clear how much “Weird” Al Yankovic holds to that quote with his multimedia extravaganza.
The serious business of “Weird” Al’s comedy is evident in the sheer amount of precision and preparation it takes to pull off one of his shows. It is also why he has had a 30 year career in this music business and gets approval to do his parodies.
“Weird” Al took the stage with his accordion and kicked off the night with “Polka Face” from his latest album Alpocalypse. Behind him the video screen played music video clips of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber perfectly in sync with “Weird” Al and his band. This added to the already humorous nature of his polkas.
The video screen would be used throughout the show playing music videos of his songs but also clips of fake interviews from his “Face to Face” series and “Weird” Al references made in different TV shows. The latter used to buy time between the band’s many many costume changes. The Wheel of Fish clip from his cult classic UHF got the biggest crowd response with them shouting “You so stupid!”
Touring in support of Alpocalypse, the set focused on the album’s parodies: “Perform this Way” (Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”), “TMZ” (Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me”) and originals: “Craigslist” and “Skipper Dan. ” Personal favorites were the black comedy of “Party in the CIA” (Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”) and the original “CNR” which the best White Stripes songs they never wrote about the exploits of Charles Nelson Riley.
“Weird” Al did dig into his back catalog for a medley that included the classics “My Bologna,” the prophetic “Theme from Rocky XIII (The Rye or the Kaiser),” “Lasagna,” and “Eat It.” He would also play fan favorites “Smells like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise,” and “White and Nerdy,” in which he came out riding a Segway. He closed the set with with “Fat” donned in the well known fat suit. I still have no idea how “Weird” Al moves the way he does in that thing. The other impressive costume being the peacock outfit he wore for “Perform this Way.”
He closed the evening with a Star Wars themed encore of favorites “The Saga Begins” (Don McLean’s
“American Pie”) and “Yoda” (the Kinks’ “Lola”) while flanked by Stormtroopers.
One of the things that can’t be missed among the laughs and razzle dazzle of a “Weird” Al show is his amazing band. Most of the band, (Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, Jim West, and Steve Jay) have been with him since the beginning of his 30 year career and it shows. Shifting between the numerous musical styles, staying in sync with the tight orchestration of the show, and matching “Weird” Al’s unending stamina and humor, it is astounding what they pull off each night.
Listening to my fellow concert attendees as I left The Newport , the post concert reactions ranged from surprise by first time “Weird” Al concert goers like myself to fans rehashing their favorite moments. What they all did was leave laughing and with giant smiles. You honestly will not have a more joy filled time than at a “Weird” Al Yankovic multimedia extravaganza.
- The 50-ish year old man dressed in lederhosen brought along his caped teenage daughter. Behind them were tattooed punks. Behind them were polo shirted college kids. Weird Al does have an all encompassing fan base.
- The photographer who has done more shows than I have even attended text me mid-show: “This is amazing.” That speaks volumes to how good the Weird Al concert is.
- I don’t know why but “Weird” Al singing Lady Antebellum while their video played during the polka opening had me laughing hard.
- One of my favorite little absurd moments was the barrel chested white maned roadie coming out to hold the harmonica for Al during “Ode to a Superhero.”
- “Drum solo reprise!”
- The band hopping every time he landed in the fat suit was a funny touch.
- Favorite musical absurdity was the vocal interlude in “Yoda.” It was both musically amazing and oddly hilarious.
- The first “secular” album I ever owned was “Weird” Al Yankovic’s In 3-D. I grew up in one of those environments where popular music was of the devil. “Weird” Al cleared the household restrictions by playing up the comedy aspect and taking a black maker to the “Nature Trail to Hell” title on my cassette in case my father actually looked at the tape. The first album I ever bought with my own was “Weird” Al’s debut which I walked a mile to Record Town to purchase.
- Like so many teenagers, “Weird” Al was my introduction to pop music. I learned about band’s like Queen and Dire Straights. I was even taught to like The Talking Heads and B-52′s before I even knew who they were. All to say it has been 30 years since “Weird” Al’s debut album. When you take into account how many teens and preteens he has introduced to pop music, how many artists he helped boost, and his musical prowess, isn’t it time to start considering “Weird” Al for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
- So many quotation marks.