Monday, August 24, 2015

Mandatory Concert

Though I've been a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic for as long as I can remember (which is no exaggeration; his music career has lasted 35 years), I'd never gone to see him in concert until last night. He came to Denver on his lengthy Mandatory Fun tour, and played two back-to-back shows with just a 90 minute break between and no opening act.

You'd never know that from the seemingly endless energy he displayed throughout the performance. Bounding and flopping around, he changed costumes more than Madonna, for almost every song. (And, as hilarious clips of his countless TV appearances filled in, his band changed right along with him.)

The concert opened with a fun live adaptation of his one-take music video for "Tacky" (the parody of the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams song "Happy"). As the band took the stage, the screen behind them revealed Weird Al in a nearby Denver restaurant, from which he worked his way out the back door, through an alley, into the theater, and finally through the audience and on to the stage -- accosting diners, police officers, and others along the way. The crowd when completely nuts when he burst through the rear theater doors.

He played every parody and several originals from his newest album. (I'm clearly not alone in loving "Word Crimes.") The polka medley was accompanied on the screen behind by the original videos of all the songs -- everyone from Miley Cyrus to One Direction to Daft Punk, perfectly synced up with the live band. He played all the biggest parodies from albums past, with costumes for each -- "Perform This Way" in an outrageous Lady Gaga-style squid outfit, "Fat" in the famous fat suit, "Smells Like Nirvana" in Kurt Cobain regalia, "White & Nerdy" while riding a segway, and "Amish Paradise" in the titular attire.

To try to satisfy every possible "I wish he'd played this song," he powered through a 10-song medley that served up a verse or two from hits throughout his career, reaching all the way back to his very first album. Another later medley was presented in "unplugged" fashion, with hilarious takes on "Eat It," "Like a Surgeon," and others.

It all wrapped up with a fantastic Star Wars themed encore (after a James Brown-style protest about how there couldn't be an encore) -- "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda," complete with a Darth Vader and squad of dancing stormtroopers on stage. (And I wonder if the various dancing abilities of the stormtroopers was deliberate nod to Katy Perry's famous "left shark.")

In all, it was two fun-filled hours that delivered everything I'd hoped for -- a great concert and comedy show all rolled into one. "Weird Al" still hasn't nailed down what he's doing next; his record contract is up and he's talked about self-publishing more topical singles and abandoning the album format. But I can say for sure that if going on tour is still part of his formula, I would absolutely go see him again.

No comments: