The Unfortunate Return of The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour

Norwood Concert Hall

Wed 13 Mar 2023


Everybody knows Weird Al Yankovic as the undisputed Prince of Parody. For forty years, hang on let me have my team of experts check that because that can’t possibly be correct….Holy Gaucamole, Yankovic’s first album came out in 1983! So yeah, FORTY years, has been the most successful musical comedian of all time. He has parodied everybody from Michael Jackson to Madonna to Tiffany to Lorde. He is very good at it. But all along he has written his own (usually) comedic songs and for the people who have devoured his albums those songs are often the equal of the send ups. Obviously on a usual Weird tour the parodies are the main thing people want to see, and the live show is nothing less than phenomenal. Quick fire costume changes for every song (for the whole band), video screens and a two hour show packed to the gills with crowd pleasers. So when this tour was announced for the hardcore fans it was manna from heaven. As it was made clear in the title of the tour, all of the press releases and media – this would be very different to a regular Al show. No costumes, no parodies, no video screens, just all the other songs (“that you probably hate” quips Al), and smaller venues because that stuff appeals to a smaller audience. Except the entire tour sold out in nano-seconds and people were hungry for Yankovic burgers. For myself, a life long Yankoholic, this was a dream gig.

His band cranks into the instrumental Fun Zone from his U.H.F. movie from 1989 before Al arrives to thunderous applause and he settles into First World Problems, his last full album Mandatory Fun released in 2014. It’s not a specific song parody but a ‘style parody’ so it sounds like The Pixies on purpose. This band is amazing. It’s the same four guys who have been with Al for four decades and they can play ANYTHING. Dog Eat Dog and Close But No Cigar are excellent but the cheer that goes up when he introduced his song completely made up of palindromes, the Dylan-esque Bob is massive. One More Minute from 1985’s Dare To Be Stupid is one of my absolute favourite Weird Al songs and the best break up song ever. By I’ll Sue You from Straight Outta Lynwood it becomes clear they are not skimping on the volume tonight. I am all for a ‘healthy working loudness’ but for a sit down gig (for the band as well as the audience) it does veer into the too loud area (said the old man). The Devo style number Dare To Be Stupid is a huge fave of mine and tonight it is played cruise ship lounge act style. The best drum solo you’ll ever need (one single hit to the snare – done) precedes the ace My Baby’s In Love With Eddie Vedder. Nature Trail To Hell is getting very loud indeed but, fans of that Weird Al in 3-D record from ’84 absolutely love it. Nautically themed Skipper Dan and the seasonal The Night Santa Went Crazy go down a treat as does CNR his White Stripes style parody about American actor and comedian Charles Nelson Reilley. The quasi-Doors Craigslist from Alpocalypse in 2006 also very popular tonight despite Craigslist not really being a thing in this country, but you couldn’t do a song called Facebook Marketplace (what would rhyme with that?).

Good Old Days wistfully embraces childhood memories of torturing rats and other fun stuff. It’s slow paced and a well needed breather before the set closer Albuquerque. If you know Al’s original material, this is the sort of song you will love. Like other epic story songs in his catalogue like The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota and Frank’s 2000 Inch TV, they are machine gun rapid lyrics telling crazy tales that get progressively more complicated and ridiculous. Al introduces this one tonight with mention of the recently released Weird : The Al Yankovic Story, a comic biopic starring Daniel Rattcliffe as Al (which incidentally is brilliant) and saying that this song is his actual life story. On the Running With Scissors record it runs for ELEVEN MINUTES! It’s epic and builds and builds and the stories get crazier and crazier, his childhood, being force fed Sauerkraut, winning contests, fighting over a snorkel, trying to buy donuts, plane crashes, fluffy towels, weasels, romance, sarcasm and hope. Played at a frantic pace with an impossibly fast vocal it is a huge fan favourite. Tonight the Donut section gets extended and extended and when he get to around the ten minute mark, he forgets where he is in the lyrics and declares, “We’ll have to start from the top” and they go back to the first verse and after a verse and chorus they get back on track but all up (and I was checking) Albuquerque ran for SEVENTEEN minutes and was absolutely fucking fantastic!

The band wave goodbye but don’t leave the stage. They potter about, three of them hanging round the drum kit. Al checks his phone, beautifully deconstructing the encore construct. They invite requests, do a rip roaring version of Bowie’s Suffragette City and then do a brief medley of some of his paraody hits, but in a lounge band style. Amish Paradise, Smalls Like Nirvana, White & Nerdy, Word Crimes and Yoda, before sliding into their now famous complicated crimping. The whole band banging out weird rhymes and noise with hand gestures and includes them doing a big section of the brilliant Crimp Off as seen in The Mighty Boosh.

It has been a hell of a two hour ride through the obscurer nooks and crannies of Yankovic’s impressive catalogue. I still have personal favourites I would love to hear like Harvey The Wonder Hamster, Pancreas, Weasel Stomping Day but a quick check shows they shake up the setlist every night, so some of those were played other places (Sydney got Biggest Ball of String…) as well as encore covers like Crocodile Rock, You Can Call me Al, Psycho Killer and The Who’s Squeeze Box!   So not a regular Al gig but a bloody smasheroony on every level. All that said I suspect despite all the warnings about what the show would be some people were expecting more of the classic Al send ups than they received, but that was really on them.

Special mention should be made of tonight’s opening act Emo Phillips. He has been around since the 1970’s and presents like no other stand up you have ever seen. His hair is cut in a Prince Valiant bowl cut, his clothes are gold and silver shine and his delivery is slow and peculiar. Some of his schtick is subtle and weird but clever and deftly delivered. At one point getting his jacket threaded onto the microphone cable and spending a lot of the set, not addressing it, but fiddling around trying to get his jacket back. His odd movements and quirky delivery , well known to myself  (big fan – last saw him was at The Office in 1990) are charming and hysterical. By the time he left the stage with his trademark “THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIENDS”, he certainly had won him a legion of new followers.

Ian Bell


Fun Zone (U.H.F.– 1989)

First World Problems (Mandatory Fun – 2014)

Dog Eat Dog (Polka Party– 1986)

Close But No Cigar (Straight Outta Lynwood – 2006)

Bob (Poodle Hat – 2003)

One More Minute (Dare To Be Stupid– 1985)

I’ll Sue You (Straight Outta Lynwood – 2006)

Dare To Be Stupid (Dare To Be Stupid– 1985)

Drum Solo

My Baby’s In Love With Eddie Vedder (Running With Scissors– 1999)

Nature Trail To Hell (Weird Al in 3-D– 1984)

Skipper Dan (Alpocalypse – 2011)

The Night Santa Went Crazy(Bad Hair Day – 1996)

You Don’t Love Me Anymore (Off The Deep End – 1992)

CNR  (Alpocalypse – 2011)

Drum Solo reprise

Bass Solo

Craigslist (Alpocalypse – 2006)

Good Old Days (Even Worse – 2006)

Albuquerque (Running With Scissors– 1999)

Suffragette City (Bowie cover)

Medley Amish Paradise / Smells Like Nirvana / White & Nerdy / Word Crimes / Yoda / Crimping


Ian Bell

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