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Weird Al in Concert

I’ve been a Weird Al fan since he did “Another One Rides The Bus” in the early 80’s. Most novelty acts do one or two songs and then fade away. Some make a fortune with one holiday song like “The Monster Mash” or “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” and call it a career. You can count the number of novelty acts with long careers on your fingers, but with the exception of The Smothers Brothers, no one has lasted longer than Al. And while Tommy and Dick are just paying the rent playing their old stuff, Al keeps coming out with fresh, funny songs on a regular basis.

I’ve never seen him on concert, though, until last week, when he kicked off his Straight Outta Linwood tour at Albany’s Palace Theater.

The back of the stage will filled with large video screens. The show started with clips of Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, Dave Lettermen, and a dozen other talk show hosts saying “Please Welcome Weird Al Yankovic.” He took to the stage and blasted into one of his pop song polka Medleys. I’ve never been a big fan of these, but his energy was infectious and got things off to a good start.

Then the stage went dark and the screens played one of his Al TV fake interviews. It seemed to go on a little longer then necessary, but then the reason for it became obvious. Al was using the time for a costume change. And not just Al – the entire band came out in new costumes every couple of songs.

He did White and Nerdy early on, dancing around the stage like he was twenty years younger than he is. During “Your Pitiful” he did a slow strip tease, pealing off layer after layer of tee shirts, each one becoming a bit more pitiful.

The sound was decent – not perfect, but clear enough to hear most of the lyrics, even “Smells Like Nirvana.” The volume was just right – loud enough to know you were at a concert, but not loud enough to obscure the music. My only technical complaint was one effect that was way overused – extremely bright strobe-like lights that were flashed directly into the eyes of the audience. Al, when we’re sitting there in a dark theater with our eyes wide open and focused directly on the stage, those lights are almost physically painful. Please, knock it off. You should know better.

“Yoda” is one of my favorite W. A. songs (“I know Darth Vader’s really got you annoyed, but remember if you kill him then you’ll be unemployed”) and I was hoping it would be in the line up. It was. It started with a costume change, of course, and he did the “The Saga Begins” in it’s entirety. Then the keyboardist did a quick, fast thirty second rendition of The Maple Leaf Rag (strange choice, but it worked) and they blasted into a version of “Yoda” that would have made Ray Davies proud.

He didn’t skimp on the costumes. There were probably a dozen costume changes during the show. He (and the band) were fully Amish for “Amish Paradise” and for “Fat” he not only wore the fat suit, but the double chin facial prosthetics.

I was hoping he’d play “Don’t Download This Song” for his encore, but instead he did “Albuquerque,” which I hadn’t heard before, but the kids behind me knew word for word.

The tour has just started, and the tickets are pretty reasonably priced, so if you get a chance treat yourself and your friends to a night of Weird. Hell, you can take grandma and the kids. Although I’m used to seeing a wide range of ages at concerts these days, the spread was really huge at this one. There were old farts like me, farts even older than me, twenty somethings, thirty somethings, teenagers and adolescents. I had never thought about it before, because he doesn’t make a big deal of it, but he does a clean show. As much as I enjoy good raunchy comedy, I have an extra dollop of respect for someone who can be clean and funny, because it’s considerably harder to do.

A while back, while YouTubeing, I came across a Weird Al video I hadn’t seen before, but like most of his videos you’ll appreciate it more if you watch the original first.

The video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues (actually a movie clip) is one of the first rock videos that was more than a recording of a concert. Embedding Youtube videos in WordPress is far more painful and complex than it should be, so you can view it by clicking here.

And here’s Al’s Version.

If you didn’t like this concert review you probably won’t enjoy this review of a Warren Zevon show or this one of the Toronto SARS concert.

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1 Comment(s)

  1. I have seen Weird Al in concert, but it was going back to his Bad Hair Day CD. He is a great showman.

    Harley | Jun 12, 2007 | Reply

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