“Weird Al” Yankovic at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 8/19/19
In one of the many video interludes that displayed “Weird Al” Yankovic’s influence on a wide range of television’s cultural institutions, Homer Simpson proclaimed “It would take a man of stone and a funny bone of steel to resist that.”
As usual, The Simpsons are right on the money – the parody king’s material spans four decades, but still holds up to hilarious effect, especially when Yankovic makes it his goal to elevate these songs to their most ridiculous degree with a full symphony orchestra and elaborate costume changes.
The audience was dotted with tinfoil hats, in reference to his Lorde parody “Foil” that didn’t even make the setlist. They erupted in laughter as soon as the orchestra kicked off 25 minutes of John Williams scores with the first notes of the Indiana Jones theme.
Yankovic himself finally walked out, looking absolutely dumbfounded at the rapturous response, before sitting down to perform a medley of his older hits that let the crowd know just how faux-seriously they were supposed to take the evening.
Acting as if he was in deep thought while stroking his long, curly hair and holding his arms outstretched as he belted the final note of “Like A Surgeon,” Yankovic made every one of his songs the biggest, most theatrical production he could.
“I can’t tell you all enough what a great honour it is to be back in my hometown of Vancouver,” he finally addressed the crowd, prompting another laugh.
In addition to the 41-piece symphony orchestra behind him, Yankovic came equipped with three doo-wop backup singers and a video wall that played his music videos.
The full orchestral arrangements made tracks like “Don’t Download This Song,” a parody of dramatic all-star charity songs, strangely arena-sized and beautiful, and still hilarious even though its anti-Napster message is straight out of another time.
Every track included a couple of irreverent and unexpected gags, whether it was feigning exhaustion, checking his phone and being brought a fancy cocktail during the instrumental break of “Jurassic Park” or dancing through the whole theatre and getting uncomfortably close to audience members during “Tacky.”
After smashing a guitar to pieces at the end of “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” Yankovic yelled “Oboe solo!” and frantically ran off the stage.
The oboist, one of the many local musicians on stage, looked petrified as the spotlight shone on her and finally managed to play a couple of notes. Of all the instruments to highlight, trust Yankovic to pick one with little fanfare.
Yankovic saved all of his biggest hits for last, the entire band running off in between each song for a quick change to really accentuate the theme.
He and his band were nearly unrecognizable dressed as a grunge outfit for “Smells Like Nirvana.” Minutes later they were mad scientists for “Dare To Be Stupid,” sheepish nerds for “White & Nerdy,” half of which Yankovic performed while rolling around on a Segway, and bearded farmers for “Amish Paradise,” while the orchestra dramatically played Coolio’s original string instrumental.
As is tradition, Yankovic returned with Darth Vader and eight fully decked-out dancing Stormtroopers for a Star Wars-themed encore.
A red light shone on the keyboardist, dressed as Emperor Palpatine, before Yankovic led a full singalong of “The Saga Begins” that saw grandparents with canes and small children in Star Wars shirts singing together wistfully.
Yankovic finally brought out his greatest weapon – the accordion – to close the show with “Yoda.” And for a 59-year-old, his high kicks while playing were something to behold.
The crowd was lucky to witness a comedy legend on his most extravagant tour yet.