Thebarton Theatre, Fri 8 Jan.
“Weird Al” Yankovic is the most successful parodist of all time, as well as a singer, songwriter, actor and more, and as he’s done over 1000 live shows his reputation as an onstage performer is also considerable. And who cares if he’s 56 now? He certainly doesn’t and an enormously appreciative audience couldn’t have cared less as we packed into the steamy Thebby for, first up, a quick set from Adelaide’s Mickey D, whose odd line in ‘random Australian bird calls’ was a winner.
The crowd was then expecting Al to appear with his band (who have been with him throughout his just-about-40 year career), but the show instead delightfully began with him, via a video link, singing Tacky (his parody of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, of course) as he strutted in from Henley Beach Road and onto the stage while clad in that eyesore-coloured suit. And then it was one hit after another for two-ish hours, with a mixture of old and newer tracks, plus a few originals, as he kept racing offstage to change costumes and, for a few minutes, we were treated to clips of all sorts of Al-related media.
There were grabs from his various TV shows; some of his fake interviews (including one hilarious mock-chat with Eminem); his exploits as an animated character; selected bits from all manner of sources demonstrating just how far-reaching his Yankovic-esque influence has been; and a trailer for a fraudulent biopic about his life starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as him and Olivia Wilde as Madonna. Naturally.
But back to the music, which included: one of his polka medleys, this one running together Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and even Gangnam Style; Perform This Way, a redo of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way with Al in purple octopus coat and ice cream hat; Dare To Be Stupid, a brilliant pastiche of Devo; Fat, Al’s take on Michael Jackson’s Bad, with him dressed for the occasion; Smells Like Nirvana, with Al done up as Kurt Cobain (he now looks at this number as a tribute); Foil, as in his conspiracy-crazy gag at the expense of Lorde’s Royals; and Canadian Idiot, a reinvention of Green Day’s (of course) American Idiot.
A clip warned that we were about to hear Eat It, Al’s parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat It (duh) and his first real hit, and we did, but not in the expected way, with the band returning in easy-listening garb and sitting calmly to perform it to the tune of Eric Clapton’s slowed-down Layla, before breaking into I Love Rocky Road and Like A Surgeon and then getting back to standard antics for Word Crimes (one of his greatest recent tunes) and more before an encore that (you guessed it) featured the band (plus some Thebby employees) done up Star Wars style for The Saga Begins (to the tune of Don McLean’s American Pie) and Yoda (to the tune of The Kinks’ Lola). As the house was brought down.
What more can be said? Al(fred) is a fabulous showman, a tremendously funny guy, a generous performer and a gifted accordionist (if such a thing is possible), and we all left well and truly Weirded out.
Image courtesy of Ian Bell ©2016