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Friday, April 12, 2013

"Weird Al" Yankovic concert in Raleigh was FRENETIC!

I'm writing this on Friday afternoon.  It was on Wednesday night that Kristen, Chad, Marissa and I saw "Weird Al" Yankovic and his band in concert as part of his Alpocalypse 2013 tour!  I'm still coming down from the high and I think everyone else is too (especially Marissa who was bouncing off the walls so hard during class at school yesterday that she reportedly had to be sedated with Valium).  And after seeing Al live for the seventh time I have to say: this was easily the best show I've seen him perform yet!  Weird Al and his band were positivalutely ablaze with energy and sheer fun.  They were electrified and enthused as I've never seen any performers in a live concert!  This is a man who obviously loves his work and that comes across very well.  I've also never seen an audience so "into it" as they were at this show :-)

Weird Al Yankovic, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2013So... wanna hear about it?  Of course ya do!!

Al stormed the stage at 8 on the dot with the "Polkaface" medley from the Alpocalypse album.  They did another number and then the stage went dark while Al and the band (John "Bermuda" Schwartz, Jim West, Ruben Valtierra, and Steven Jay) did the first of their many costume changes.  The intermittent periods are filled with various Al videos, such as his "interviews" with celebrities like Eminem and Umma Thurman, his recent "5-Second Films" series and the "Weird" trailer that FunnyOrDie.com released a few years ago.  There was even the "Dirt" documentary!

"A garage band from Seattle.
Well it sure beats raising cattle."
When the lights came up it was Al in his Kurt Cobain outfit as he and the band did "Smells Like Nirvana" from the Off the Deep End album.  Al gargled water from a red Solo cup during that part of the song then spat it upward and threw the cup into the audience.  The crowd sang along after the "...how do the words to it go" while Al feigned forgetfulness.  This song's video is one of the better ones that Al has produced and the live performance does a fabulous job conveying that same crazy spirit.

From there it was a series of many of Al's more recent works, such as "Skipper Dan", "Party at the CIA" (a parody of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA") and "Canadian Idiot" (Al's parody of "American Idiot" by Green Day).  Al and the band were dressed in their finest secret agent finery for "Party at the CIA" and Al was perfectly resplendent in a red-and-white maple-leaf motifed jacket for "Canadian Idiot" (the climax of which saw red and white streamers violently fired into the air above the audience).  My favorite of this set was when Al did "CNR": his White Stripes style parody about Charles Nelson Reilly.  I had a picture of Reilly loaded up on my iPad and was holding it aloft and waving it as Al sang!  Alas he didn't see me but later it turned out to be a good thing that I did that (find out why later).

Weird Al Yankovic, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2013, Wanna B Ur Lover
"You're absolutely perfect. Don't speak now you might spoil it.
Your eyes are even blue-er than the water in my toilet."
Then Al hurried back for another costume change while we were treated to more video clips and when he came out it was with a song that truly has become one of the most anticipated of his live shows: "Wanna B Ur Lover".  It's a style parody of the kind of music that Prince/The Artist Formerly Known As Prince/whatever is known for.  This song is from 2003's Poodle Hat album and when he does it live Al comes out in a Prince-esque outfit while carousing among the crowd and serenading ladies in the audience (unfortunately we were close to the front but he didn't come down our side of the auditorium... and Marissa was seated right on the aisle!  Lord only knows what that girl would have done if Al had chosen to sing that to her :-P)

I'm just gonna post a couple more pictures of Al doing "Wanna B Ur Lover" even though they can't do the live performance any true justice :-)

Weird Al Yankovic, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2013, Wanna B Ur Lover
Is Al channeling Gene Simmons??
Weird Al Yankovic, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2013, Wanna B Ur Lover
"Anyone ever tell you you've got Yugoslavian hands?"

Weird Al Yankovic, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2013, Eat It
"Grab yourself an egg and beat it!"
Following another costume change/video intermission (one of these was "Wheel of Fish" from Weird Al's movie UHF and of course the whole audience had to scream "STOOPID!!  YOU SO STOOPID!!" along with Kuni), Al and his band did "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" then a medley of some of his other songs, like "Whatever You Like", "Ode to a Superhero" (Al's parody of Billy Joel's "Piano Man") and of course no "Weird Al" Yankovic concert would be complete without Al putting on the red Michael Jackson jacket and going into "Eat It"!  Hey, that's the song which not only fired his career into the outer stratosphere, it's what for many of us was the very first Weird Al song we ever heard... and we're still tuned into him almost thirty years later (but more about that in just a bit :-)

"As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain..."
 "Eat It" wrapped up the medley then it was another costume change... and when the lights came up there was Al "looking plain" in Old Order Mennonite garb.  Of course it was time for "Amish Paradise"!  Some consider this to have been Weird Al's best music video ever (from what many already believe is his best album, Bad Hair Day from 1996) and the first several seconds of it synced up perfectly with Al's on-stage persona.  This is one of his songs that the audience really "gets into": everything from waving the hands to some people even whipping out black hats.  Who'da thought that a song about Amish would be such a hit crowd pleaser?

HE is the Lizard King!
(Who would have also thought that a live concert would feature the word "uvula" not once but twice?!  Only at a Weird Al show... :-)

Another costume change and then it was Al looking like Jim Morrison and all the rest of the band as members of The Doors for "Craigslist".  This was originally part of Al's "Internet Leaks" series from the summer of 2009 and then appeared on Alpocalypse.  It has become one of my favorite songs of his for some reason or another.  Instead of "the Coffee Bean" Al changed the lyrics so that they were about a Raleigh-area cafe.  He did that at the Charlotte concert we attended in October 2011 as well.  Gotta love when an artist goes for the local flavor like that :-)

(As an aside, I finally understand what the Indians and car wreck scenes in the "Craigslist" video are about.  Chad told me about Morrison having seen a car crash on an Indian reservation when he was very young and how it affected him.  It's not a big thing but that level of detail is something that makes Al not only entertaining but educational as well!)

Donny Osmond and Minesweeper. Only at a Weird Al concert!
Another costume change: Al in a peacock getup while various members of the band wore likewise outrageous outfits (Ruben Valtierra with a beehive on his head, Jim West wearing cheese etc.) for "Perform This Way": Al's parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga.  It woulda been kinda cool if Al had wrapped his intestines around himself while being set on fire but I guess there's only so much that can be done without the CGI effects of a music video, huh?  Maybe someday he can wear raw meat and throw chunks of it at the audience!  Hey I'd fight for some of that :-)

After "Perform This Way" it was another brief intermission and several seconds later it was "White and Nerdy" time!  Al's rendition of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" is another of Al's recent songs that became an instant classic  Al arrived on stage riding a Segway while a crazy montage of clips played on the screen behind him.  We'd forgotten about how much Donny Osmond was in the music video... and there's even MORE of him in the concert edition!!  Another song that the audience can't help but get themselves involved in :-)

Al and the band had performed a hefty number of their tunes for our pleasure, but of course they weren't going to let the evening end without "Fat": Al's parody of Michael Jackson's "Bad".  I've heard that it took Al four hours to get into makeup and costume for the music video in 1988.  The live concert version takes him something like forty seconds!  Is this guy a show-business beast or what?

Considering that it's "Fat", here's Al in an extra-wide photo...

"You know I'm FAT, I'm FAT, you know it!"
Then Al introduced the band members and thanked the audience and said "Good night Raleigh!"

But as any veteran of a Weird Al concert knows: this is NOT the end of the show...

A few minutes later Ruben came on dressed as Darth Sidious from the Star Wars movies.  He played a spooky organ interlude as a Tusken Raider, several Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Chewbacca and Darth Vader himself (all courtesy of the 501st Legion) paraded onto the stage.  They were followed by Al and the remaining band members dressed as Jedi Knights.  And so it was that Al did "The Saga Begins": a parody of "American Pie" so spot-on that Don McLean complained that for awhile he was singing Al's song instead of his own!

There was one final song to perform.  Not just a "song", but a transcendental experience unlike any other.  You see, "Yoda" is far more than a Star Wars-inspired parody of "Lola" by the Kinks.  It is several minutes' worth of communion with the inner geek we all share.  The culmination of which is the very, very strange, wildly surreal and unbelievably coordinated "Yoda Chat" that Al and his band go into.  How it began and how the guys practice it will likely always be a total mystery but the Alpocalypse 2013 version is certainly the longest Yoda Chant they have done in all my years of attending Weird Al concerts!

 Then Al and the band said their final goodbyes to the audience and we all got up from our seats happy and content and totally, totally exhilirated from an evening of pure undiluted WEIRDNESS.  And a few seconds later we got a surprise: our friend Eric and his two sons were in the audience behind us!  They had come all the way from Charlotte for the show and he'd wondered if he would see us there.  Turns out that my waving around Charles Nelson Reilly's pic on my iPad during "CNR" was spotted by Eric and he knew where to find us after that.  Gotta love how things turn out like that :-)

But of course, we were NOT going to go home without attempting to meet Weird Al.  Fortunately there was a small line waiting at his tour bus and he graciously spent several minutes greeting his fans and signing autographs!  He signed my copies of When I Grow Up and Weird Al: The Book (Kristen got that for me for Christmas).  Then he let us get photos with him.  Here is life-long best friend Chad and I with Al.  This really meant a lot to me, since Chad is the one who first introduced me to Weird Al's music all the way back in March of 1984!  This was his first Al concert.  Somehow, it seems like there's a sense of completion at long last...
Me, Weird Al, Chad
Is Weird Al putting the moves on MY girlfriend?!?
And there is Weird Al, Kristen and me.  We even got to tell Al about how his music was one of the things that we had in common with each other when we first met and how it has become one of the bigger parts of our relationship!  He seemed rather fond and appreciative of that :-)  Before the show we met a couple and the lady was extremely pregnant.  I told her that my girlfriend thought she looked so beautiful the way she was cradling her unborn child and how wonderful they were to be introducing the kid to Weird Al music already!  Lord willing, that will be Kristen someday and if they coincide we will CERTAINLY take him/her to an Al concert before the decanting takes place!

So the four of us and Eric and his two boys all got to meet Al and tell him and the band that it was a terrific show.  One that if you can, you really should try to see sometime during this tour!  It really was the best and craziest and funniest that I've ever seen Weird Al do in live performance.  It was also the best audience that I'd ever witnessed for an Al show.  Like Kristen and I were discussing yesterday afternoon: this world would have been far less interesting and much poorer if it weren't for "Weird Al" Yankovic running loose in it :-)

Mash here for the official WeirdAl.com website and see if he's coming to a town near you!  Buy tickets and then use them!  You won't regret it :-)

(Thanks to Kristen for taking so many awesome photos of the show!)


Anonymous said...

I was behind you in line at the "meet & greet". I'm the extra large woman with the petite friend. We spoke to Ruben, who recognized the guy behind me, Jeremy. It sure is a small world. Great report. It was an amazing show and reading your blog helped me relive it. @rose6156 (Debbie)