He Performs This Way: ‘Weird Al Yankovic: Live! – The Alpocalypse Tour’

"Weird Al" Yankovic
Comedy Central

If you sit down and ask a bunch of 20-something musicians and aspiring music journalists today what their first album or first concert was, you might actually be surprised by how many of them actually answer “Weird Al” Yankovic.

In all honesty, this answer actually makes a lot of sense. After all, Yankovic’s albums cross a multitude of genres but still manage to humorously tap into our collective pop culture conscious, which can help foster a long-running love of music. This, along with Yankovic’s delightfully goofy sense of humor, has allowed the Parody King to last so much longer than many of the artists that he’s parodied (see: Tiffany).

Yet in between his Grammy-wins and highly reachable music videos, one of the more unique aspects of Yankovic’s career is his live show. Truth be told, it doesn’t really change from year to year: it just casually evolves, integrating newer numbers and gradually ditching less-topical ones. Probably the most famous example of this lays in the fact that for the past ten or so years, he ends every concert by donning the trademark fat-suit and makeup to perform his famed Michael Jackson parody “Fat”, and as the “Weird Al” Yankovic: Live! – The Alpocalypse Tour DVD proves, this act has lost absolutely none of its charm.

Throughout this concert — filmed in front of a very polite audience in Toronto — Yankovic and his band goes through no less than 13 different costumes, letting the time inbetween his numbers be filled with video clips from his music videos, UHF, and more. In short, it’s a wildly entertaining show.

Opening with his latest collection of polka-fied pop hits (“Polka Face”) and closing with his classic one-two Star Wars punch of “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda” (complete with dancing Storm Troopers and R2D2), Yankovic is in top form here. He gives his new originals some needed time to breathe (“Skipper Dan” and “CNR” are particularly fun), and manages to do an 11-song medley which stretches from first single “My Bologna” to his B.o.B./Bruno Mars parody “Another Tattoo”, hitting oft-neglected favorites like “I Want a New Duck” along the way.

The Massey Hall venue that the concert is filmed at, however, serves as a sharp contrast to the live spectacle before them. Everyone is sitting down and they applaud at the right places, but there’s a severe lack of energy emanating from the audience. The only noteworthy cutaway shot to the crowd is when four people begin swinging paper faces of Charles Nelson Reilly in the upper balcony during “CNR”, but for the most part, the crowd is sedated.

Although they do respond favorably from the Green Day parody “Canadian Idiot”, it’s the song that follows — the gloriously sleazy Prince/Beck style parody “Wanna B Ur Lovr” — that really allows Yankovic to knock people out of their complacency. Donning a red-and-black tiger-stripped lounge outfit, Yankovic makes his way out to the audience to drop unbelievably-cheesy pickup lines to the ladies in the rows and aisles, occasionally standing up on the seats to make sure all can see his hip gyrations (the best line still being “You must’ve fallen from Heaven / That would explain how you messed up your face”).

What really makes the show worthwhile, however, is Yankovic’s veteran band. Having played and toured with Al for decades, drummer Steve “Bermuda” Schwartz, keyboardist Rubén Valtierra, guitarist Jim West and bassist Steve Jay — aside from all being remarkably talented — manage to provide just as much entertainment as Yankovic does, going through almost as many costume changes. Check out the knit sweater that Valtierra wears during “White & Nerdy”, or the numerous leg kicks that Yankovic and Jay share during “Rye or the Kaiser”.

Then there’s the way that Jay & West drop their instruments and turn into nerdy rap hype-men during “White & Nerdy”, the fake gun shots that West fires during “Party in the CIA”, and the way both men bounce up in the air when a fattened Yankovic lands on the ground during “Fat”. This is a group that knows how to have fun, and the group’s sense of camaraderie practically makes the show.

Their fun carries over onto the DVD’s numerous extras as well, including three bonus songs (“Frank’s 2000″ TV”, a guitar-smashing “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”, and the excellent “You Make Me”), during which Yankovic insists on hearing a drum solo, a bass solo, and yet another drum solo. There’s also the music videos for “Perform This Way” and “Polka Face”, a series of Al’s YouTube videos (the best one being a short simply titled “Weird Al Shreds”), and a couple of the promotional videos he filmed for various websites leading up to the release of Alpocalypse, the Funny Or Die Titanic one being the most amusing, the “One-on-One” feature being the most unbearable (also, no Funny Or Die “Weird” trailer starring Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul & Patton Oswalt? For shame …)

That said, there is still no replacement for seeing Yankovic live and in person. If for some reason you can’t, though, “Weird Al” Yankovic: Live! – The Alpocalypse Tour is a fantastic a substitution as you’ll ever find.

RATING 8 / 10
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