Weird Al Yankovic is in a class all by himself.
Weird Al Yankovic is in a class all by himself. Last night at The Carpenter Theater before a full house, he proved just why with a show that perfectly highlighted his long (and odd) career. Featuring his most famous parodies and call-backs to what’s made him one of music’s most endearing musicians, it was a perfect show for diehard fans and anyone who’s ever just chuckled at one of his gags.
Yes, Weird Al has built a career on overly ridiculous parodies, but that career is now closing in on four decades and he’s still just as relevant, popular, and good as ever. Just think about other artists who debuted in the early 1980s and ask yourself who’s managed to keep all three of those qualities going. The list is short, if not non-existent, and it’s a true testament to the skill Weird Al has. Yes, skill. Last year, he released Mandatory Fun, a record that was quickly touted as one of his best ever, if not the best. This record paraodied the likes of Lorde to Iggy Azalea and opened him up to an entirely new generation of fans, surely opening the door for his career to far surpass that fourth decade.
Thursday night’s show was a barrage of Weird Al from the moment the show began. He whipped through song after song at a ridiculous pace, all with plenty of costume changes and set pieces coming into play. Between the songs, clips of the singer’s numerous appearances and cameos played as well as references or jabs from all over the spectrum. Scenes from My Little Pony bled into references from Friends before segueing into some of his more memorable segments from Al TV over the years, like his 2003 mock interview with Eminem. The clips were a great treat for fans with enough to surprise even a few people, like Weird Al pseudo humping Conan O’Brien last year.
The costume changes were on point the whole night, with his backing band having a play in all the frivolity as well. Weird Al jumped from a ridiculous fat suit to a Cobain wig and grunge outfit giving each song its own identity. It was a great way to kind of guide the musical journey his music took you on as he visited artists and genres from the 80s all the way up until today. In addition to the costume changes, the use of props and the video screen helped each song stand out even further, though they really didn’t need it considering just how animated the 55 year old was. That’s right – at 55 years of age, Weird Al still had more than enough energy to spare throughout the whole night. After the show, it barely looked like the man had even broken a sweat on stage.
It’s hard to pinpoint the high point of the night for sure, but I think most in attendance will admit that there’s nothing better than Weird Al seducing the crowd to the sound of “Wanna Be Ur Lovr” and climbing (and grinding) all over fans on the ground floor. It’s a simple thing, of course, but his dedication and over-the-top antics had everyone with tears in their eyes for the entire song. To the poor soul who chose a wrong to come back to his seat with a beer, you’re lucky Weird Al didn’t straight up mount you then and there.
There wasn’t much left out of the show from his storied career with songs going all the way back to the early 80s like “Another One Rides The Bus.” His newest (and perhaps best) polka medley “Now That’s What I Call Polka!” popped up early in the night and the way he jumped from song to song in the middle of the show was exhilariting with bits and pieces from “Handy” bleeding into “Bedrock Anthem” before landing on “Gump” and “Canadian Idiot.” I don’t think there was one popular song missed and as he ended the night with the Star Wars portion of the evening (backed by clunky stormtroppers and Vader), the whole crowd just came unglued for a chance to singalong about Yoda or the guy who’d be Vader someday later.
Richmond has seen it’s share of amazing shows, especially in the last week, and this was absolutely no exception. Everyone knew it’d be different, funny, and memorable, but nobody could have predicted the vitality Weird Al showed on stage after all these years as he intoxicated the crowd with laughter from the moment the first song began. It was an ideal showcase for everyone on just how perfect comedy and music can be together when done right. It’s silly, ridiculous, and at times downright stupid, but it’s been Weird Al’s calling card for decades now and rightfully so. After last night’s show, it’s easy to see just how he’s still going strong and hopefully has decades left to give.