“Weird” Al Yankovic at Vicar Street – Photos and Review
This is a joke that really should have gotten old by now. Yet there’s something endearing about “Weird” Al Yankovic. Something that allows him to still be wildly popular – more popular than ever in fact; his latest album Mandatory Fun was the first of his career to hit the top of the Billboard charts. Tonight at Vicar Street there’s no agenda, no bad language (even the bad language uttered by others during the skits on the screen behind the stage), no one looking to change the world. There’s just a man, his band and four decades worth of inoffensive parody songs here to enjoy their first show in Ireland.
This isn’t highbrow entertainment but it’s clever and a whole lot of fun from the moment Weird Al holds his accordion aloft to massive cheers from an impressively large crowd. Bubbles and streamers fly into the crowd at various points during songs like ‘Now That’s What I Call Polka’, adding to the party atmosphere.
There’s costume changes galore. Al arrives dressed as some kind of purple Octopus for the Gaga send up ‘Perform This Way’, rides a Segway in standard issue rap attire during ‘White And Nerdy’, looks like the later life version of Martin Hannett in 24 Hour Party People during ‘Fat’ and dons full Cobain uniform for ‘Smells Like Nirvana’ which features the best water gargling guitar solo you’re ever likely to hear.
He’s assembled a talented group of musicians who are impressively versatile, switching with ease between the various styles of music that Al has sent up throughout his career. The unplugged section, complete with flowing white shirts and candles on stage is particularly impressive. It includes a re-imagined version of ‘Eat It’ which sounds like it’s now as indebted to ‘Layla’ as it is to ‘Beat It’. ‘Like A Surgeon’ also receives the stripped back treatment, opening with gentle piano accompaniment before the drums thunder it into life.
Don’t worry, Weird Al hasn’t gone all serious. This is all done with tongue firmly in cheek and he’s soon bounding across the stage in a stripy suit belting out the hilarious ‘Word Crimes’ – an anthem for grammar pedants the world over.
The crowd respond well to the whole thing and every hand in the room is swaying side to side during ‘Amish Paradise’ before an old man with a beard comes to usher him off the stage James Brown style. This same old man appears frequently during the show, holding things. This seems to be his only job. Holding a harmonica to Al’s mouth, holding bongos for the drummer, just holding stuff. Not a bad job really.
The encore tops off the whole evening. With the band in full Jedi gear and some dad-dancing Storm Troopers, ‘The Saga Begins’ and ‘Yoda’ round out the evening. If you haven’t seen the Phantom Menace…well that means you’re very lucky. It’s rubbish. Just give ‘The Saga Begins’ a listen – it tells you everything you need to know and is far more fun than the actual movie.
‘Yoda’, which as you may have guessed is sung to the tune of ‘Lola’, features a delightfully nonsensical barbershop melody in the middle of it and Al even picks out a punter from the front row to belt out the chorus. Safe to say that guy was on the right side of the stage judging by his efforts but at least he gave it a whirl.
And we’re all just here for a bit of harmless fun anyway.
Photos by Anamaria Meiu
Review by Mark O’Brien