“Weird Al” Yankovic has been making fun of pop music for a long time. In fact, he’s been doing it since 1976. His music has gone across generations, quite literally in fact: He took the piss out Billy Ray Cyrus in the early 1990’s, and then ended up doing the same thing to Billy Ray’s now infamous daughter 2 decades later. His popularity in America is such that a number of artists (Kurt Cobain, for example) considered that they’d finally “made it” when Al parodied them. On this side of the world though, he has a relatively small cult following. It came as a pleasant surprise then, when Al’s very first live appearance in Ireland was announced with a date in the intimate surroundings of Vicar Street.
At 8:32pm, the lights went down, and the video screen at the back of the stage (previously displaying the propaganda photo of Al’s latest album cover) went blank, and the music for Tacky began. Weird Al takes the live performance of his parody of Pharrel’s unstoppable hit Happy to another level by making fun of the music video itself: He began singing the song from outside Vicar Street, whilst being captured by a camera operator broadcasting his gradual entry to the venue on the aforementioned video screen. The look of confusion in particular on one random bystanders face as Al walked and sang past him was hysterical. A few songs later, Al raised his accordion high in the air, to the deafening roar of the crowd. He asked us if we were “Ready to Polka,” which was also received with with a piercing scream from the audience. Al and his band then launched into his most recent ludicrous polka medley (think 10 or so recent pop songs done polka style, at high speed, in 4 God damn minutes). It went down a storm. From here on, the ebb and flow of the gig went more or less between songs performed onstage, vs. costume changes for Al and the band, while an old school change-the-TV-channel style montage of various hilarious and often completely absurd clips played on the video screen. The Eminem interview and the Whiplash parody in particular were highlights of the video portions of the show.
The two medleys during the show served to allow Weird Al and his band to treat us to portions of over a dozen of his songs. The second medley even had an acoustic version of Eat It sung to the tune of Eric Clapton’s Layla. After a revered performance of Amish Paradise, Weird Al declared that he could “do no more,” but happily for all concerned, he was lying. A group of armed Stormptoopers walked on stage for the encore, followed by Al and his band, all dressed as Jedi. The Saga Begins followed by Yoda both got marvellous airings. Just when it seemed like it was about to end, the band then launched into an acapella scat chant, which even featured a tribute to The Mighty Boosh. One more chorus of Yoda, and the show was over.
It truly was a 2 hour tour de force, something which I have personally waited for since hearing Weird Al’s Running With Scissors album when I was about 13. It’s not very often you get to have a 17 year dream come true, let alone have your already colossal expectations actually exceeded. What an incredible experience.