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Concert Review: Sunday’s “Weird” Al Yankovic show really was (and that made it good)

BY JILL VEJNOSKA

There may have been no one better suited to play the Fox Theatre on Father’s Day than “Weird” Al Yankovic — and not just because the crowd was suspiciously heavy with grown men giggling like schoolgirls at a Taylor Swift show whenever they heard the opening chords of “White & Nerdy” or “Fat.”

Also because, in a way, Yankovic is the EveryDad:

He’s a little goofy. And he’s not going away.

Weird Al Yankovic.JPG

Then again, who’d want him to? Certainly not any of the three generations of fans who’ve bought 12 million copies of his 25-plus albums or cackled over his latest clever parody of a popular song. On Sunday night, everyone from young kids to grandmas poured into the Fox for “Weird” Al’s “Mandatory World Tour,” a two hour extravaganza of music, Yankovic’s curious crab-like dancing and a constant parade of video clips unfurling behind the “Mandatory” band on the Fox’s giant screen.

“That . . .,” CBS late night host Craig Ferguson said in one of them, Is an American entertainer.”

What else was there to say?

Yankovic, 56, has been at this for nearly 40 years — ever since he had his first hit as a college junior with “My Bologna.” That humorous take on the one-hit-wonder The Knack’s “My Sharona” seemingly was the only one of his songs Yankovic skipped in a show that began with him dancing down the Fox aisle while singing “Tacky” (think: Pharrell’s “Happy”). It all ended with “Yoda” (think: The Kinks’ “Lola”) as the encore, complete with a chorus line of white suited “Star Wars” stormtroopers.

In between were some three dozen songs, performed individually or in medleys, many of which the audience started singing or clapping along to at the opening chords. Plus enough only-Al sort of stuff to make it a truly memorable night.

Here’s how it was  a “weird” one, anyway:

  •  He was the human iPod shuffle: From rap (“Amish Paradise,” a parody of Coolio’s 1995 “Gangsta’s Paradise”) and ’80s pop (“Like a Sturgeon,” aka Madonna’s “Live a Virgin”) to grunge (“Smells Like Nirvana,” which needs no explanation) and alt rock (“First World Problems” is his homage to The Pixies), Yankovic jumped between genres and decades as frequently and nimbly as he changed outfits.
  • Speaking of which . . . He made more costume changes than Cher: Flourescent suits, a coat made out of fuzzy purple octopus tentacles, an Obi Wan Kenobi tunic . . . You name it, the “Weird” one wore it, sometimes not even dashing offstage to make his costume changes in between songs. Still, two outfits were the clear crowd favorites, along with the songs they accessorized: The black fat suit he donned to stomp around stage during the parody of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” (“I’m fat, I’m fat . . .” ), first released in 1988. And the ridiculously slick black-and-white striped suit and shades he donned during “Word Crimes,” the takeoff on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” that found him a whole new generation of fans two years ago. Not to mention making him an idol to librarians and English teachers all over the country.
  • He was everywhere. Literally: Except for approximately two minutes between Yankovic’s first shouted “Good night, Atlanta!” and his return for a couple of encore numbers, the show never stopped. On those rare occasions when he and the Mandatory band were off making lightning-quick costume or instrument changes, video clips kept the crowd entertained. They also underscored how much Yankovic’s become part of the American pop culture firmament: If his “Weird”-ness wasn’t actually cameo-ing in TV shows and movies like “The Simpsons” and the “Naked Gun” trilogy, he was serving as a ready-made punchline on “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother.” And at different points on Sunday night, clips showed him conducting increasingly off-the-rails “interviews” with Celine Dion, REM’s Michael Stipe and other hard-to-get-to celebrities. But not hard for the guy who came up with “La-la-la-la-lasagna,” sung to the tune of “La Bamba,” apparently.
  • And he played a mean accordion. Literally: An accordion player since the age of six, “Weird” Al’s third number of the night was actually a fast-paced medley set to the strains of his “squeezebox.” It was the perfect accompaniment for what became an increasingly obvious — and hilarious — demonstration of how some songs are their own, overwrought best parody. As the original videos for hits like Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO” played on the giant screen behind him, Yankovic sang the actual lyrics at warp speed while the accordion wheezed along like a perpetual laugh track. It was brilliant.
  •  Three words: Tin foil hats. Near the end of “Foil,” his cleverer-than-the-original-it’s-based-on parody of  Lorde’s “Royals,” Yankovic donned a hat made of aluminum foil. He quickly took it off again for the next number. Not so certain hard core sectors of the audience  who’d arrived sporting their own aluminum foil headgear and kept it on for the full two hours. And  Yankovic’s the one everyone calls “Weird . . . ?!”

 


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