REVIEW: Edmonton Nerds love Weird Al

Weird Al Yankovic Edmonton GigCityWeird Al has been funny for so long that people take it for granted.

I remember hearing Another One Rides The Bus on K-97 all the time. In 1981. Every now and then I’d see one of his videos and was aware of his 1989 movie UHF, but I never really paid close attention until he released his Straight Outta Lynwood album in 2006. I paid attention to that one because I was working in a mall record store and the Weird Al album was the only good play copy the company sent us that year.

I played it to death, and not just to avoid playing Big Shiny Tunes whatever number. I was impressed that his comedy was backed up by legitimate musical prowess, and his humour was a bit more than wacky puns.

He’s still funny. At the Jubilee Auditorium on Friday night, his “Mandatory Fun” show started with Al’s parody of Pharrell Williams’ incredibly annoying Happy song. Al’s version, Tacky, had Weird Al shown on the video screen outside the Jube as he sang to the camera while walking around the building, through the front doors and into the theatre, tearing a newspaper out of one guy’s hands and pushing over one of the ticket takers, through the crowd and onto the stage, while wearing, of course, a tacky suit. Still not sure how they timed it all out the way they did, but the entrance was perfect.

The two hour show was half rock concert, half theatre. Most of the songs were like set pieces, with their own costumes, lighting, etc… They were like videos done live. The show didn’t slow down at all despite obvious complex stage and costume changes, as Weird Al smartly used clips of either his past TV and film work, or real life mentions of him from newscasts and his various cameos from other artist’s movies. You gotta see the one where he edits himself into a scene from the movie Whiplash. With his accordion.

Al and his band were great. Great players and excellent co stars in the show. Great crew too. They had a lot to do. The harmonica holder guy had the audience in stitches. The whole show had a “so what could possibly be next?” vibe to it. Everything was a surprise, a pleasant, funny surprise.

It was in the encore that I realised that the folks sitting around me liked Weird Al more than I did. A LOT more. Don’t get me wrong, I like him quite a bit, but these people LOVE him. They LOVE Star Wars too, so when, for the encore, Weird Al did a Star Wars tribute, the audience was full voiced with him all the way. They even knew all the words to the quite lengthy The Saga Begins (taking the piss out of American Pie). The roaring applause rivaled the passion of even an AC/DC audience.

I’m very proud of the Edmonton Nerds – although for a couple seconds there you scared the crap out of me with your undiluted belief.