Weird Al Yankovic at Vicar Street, Dublin, 6th of October 2015
Weird Al Yankovic is not cool. He’s not edgy, he’s not dangerous and he’s certainly not original. He is, in his own words, White and Nerdy (his version Chamillionaire’s Ridin’); so too are most of his fans filling up Vicar Street, given the response the song received late in his show.
A counter-intuitive picture of Al himself in communist dictator garb adorns the screen as his band enters the stage. The band intro Tacky (Pharrell’s Happy) when the screen cuts to Yankovic dressed in a multi-coloured, magic eye of a suit on the asphalt football pitch backing on to the Vicar Street venue (maybe he is more dangerous than we just gave him credit for).
The camera follows as he makes his way to the venue, dancing like a middle-aged relative at a wedding: ‘uncle crunking’ as we’ve taken to call it here at GoldenPlec. As he hits the stage a euphoric cheer rises up from most in attendance. The level of adoration seems a bit over the top based on the intro alone; though his version does seem to have more to say than the original’s If You’re Happy And You Know It level of depth.
He may not be subtle, but to get a crowd ranging from the pre-pubescent to middle-aged, a more broad sentiment is required – there’s a reason The Big Bang Theory is the most popular show in America.
The show acts as a sort of Greatest Hits, of not just the songs, but the TV and film appearances and mentions (The Naked Gun, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, etc.) fill the screen during his frequent costume changes. Like A Surgeon, Fat and Smells Like Nirvana all get their expected airing, while Now That’s What I Call Polka is another of his standard weapons: a few bars of a modern hit sung over a little changing polka riff.
Meanwhile, his parody of Lady Gaga for Perform This Way, where he wears a giant octopus costume with a form of ice-cream cone hat, and Amish Paradise are about as subtle as a punch to the kidneys.
Still, there are some surprises. Eat It, originally a cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, is done here more in the style of Clapton’s MTV Unplugged version of Layla, with Yankovic and his band playing acoustically on a candlelit stage.
Some of the interludes too, particularly where Yankovic is cut into an iconic scene in Whiplash and a trailer for the fake Yankovic biopic ‘Weird’ (done by Funny or Die, but obviously embraced by the man himself), are incredibly funny.
There intelligence in some of the songs too. Word Crimes is much more than the loathsome Blurred Lines it covers and actually gives a positive message… because grammar is important. The subtle reference to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in Lame Claim to Fame is a nice reward for those listening.
The show is closed out with his Star Wars double. While The Saga Begins is a very good use of the material at hand, there is likely nothing ‘whiter and nerdier’ than a room full people waving their arms to and fro to Weird Al Yankovic singing about The Phantom Menace to the tune of Don McLean’s American Pie. Doing the same to Yoda (a cover of The Kinks’ Lola) comes as close as anything might.
Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo have a test for comedy on their BBC film review show: If a film makes you laugh six or more times, it counts as a comedy. By that metric, Weird Al Yankovic’s show is a success. It never drags and the nearest chuckle is rarely far away. There are no moments of side-splitting hilarity, nor do many of the jokes bear repeating – as such the ultimate standing ovation seems a little generous.
Still, with the entertainment and energy Yankovic brings, it’s a show that, while not without flaws, is hard not to like.