I’ve seen Weird Al perform nearly two dozen times and, although it never gets old, I always know what I’m going to get. The unique costumes, kooky parodies, and a bellyache and sore face to match what with all of the laughing and smiling. Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to go to his show last night. Billed as ‘The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour’, last nights show would be a super scaled down version of Weird Al’s typical show. No props, no costumes, no big screens behind him, and very few parodies so he can focus on his originals. Now, I love Weird Al, I do but could I do a whole show of his without hearing the classic parodies that have truly made him who he is? Well, push came to shove and I went. I just couldn’t miss a chance to see him yet another time and, although I was nervous as I took my seat in the beautiful Pantages Theatre, I was excited for something new and different from this man that I have followed throughout the years.
Emo Phillips kicked off the show with an absolutely hilarious stand-up routine. His quick set could have easily gone on for hours and I don’t think you would have heard a single complaint from the crowd. His jokes were catered to the Twin Cities which made the opening act that much more unique. His quirkiness on stage and his awkward mannerisms alone could have you rolling on the floor laughing. Add his jokes and perfectly un-perfect delivery and you have a great start to the night. Emo Phillips and Weird Al have a lot of history– most notably, Emo starred in Al’s 1989 hit movie UHF. Okay, I use the word ‘hit’ very loosely here but honestly, it’s a masterpiece and a movie I have memorized word for word so seeing Emo live was definitely a treat.
As Emo left the stage and the lights came on, I had a chance to look around the audience and get a feel for the type of people that made it through the snow just to see this super special performance. It seemed like there was no common thread between the people in the audience. There were some young couples, some older couples, some whole families and lot of dads with their super young daughters. I watched in amusement as the dads danced with their daughters to the eclectic music that was pumping through the speakers between acts. As the lights went down, people scurried to their seats. The anticipation in the air was thick and honestly, at that point, I had completely forgotten that, for once, I didn’t know what to expect from Weird Al. All I knew is I was going to see him perform and that had me smiling ear to ear.
Al and his four piece group took the stage and jumped right into ‘Velvet Jesus’ after a quick hello to the overly excited crowd. As the song started, a hush came over the audience. Although it was a bit strange to see Al just sitting in a chair with black jeans and a Hawaiian shirt on rather than running around in the stage in elaborate costumes, it worked and within the first song, I decided that this scaled down version of Al’s show was going to be okay and it was definitely worth the time and stress of driving through a snow storm to get to the concert.
Throughout the set Al and his band played B-sides from his albums. Instead of playing the hits that everyone has come to know and love, he was playing songs like ‘Midnight Star’ and a scaled back version of ‘Dare To Be Stupid’. Without the production value that his shows typically have, you were truly able to see just how much talent this guy has. Sure, his song writing is freaking hilarious but have you ever just listened to his voice? I mean, this guy can sing but when presented in a fat suit or a DEVO costume, it’s something that is easily lost in translation. As Al sang through his twenty song set, the audience stayed silent and, other than the little girl dancing in the aisle in front me of, motionless. It was almost as if the audience was in shock but, as soon as a song would end, the audience with roar with applause. The amount of respect that Al effortlessly gets from his fans is something that will always amaze me.
As mentioned, I’ve seen Weird Al nearly two dozen times. Every time I hope and pray that he plays my favorite song “Albuquerque” but, at over eleven minutes long, this is definitely not one of his hit songs and not a “must play” when it comes to his normal shows. Being that last night’s show was a bit different than what he usually does, I figured that if I ever had a shot at hearing this song live, it would be last night. After fifteen songs, my hope to hear the legendary song faded. Weird Al started to talk about why he did this tour and went on to explain that really it was just to play one song. My ears perked up. He kept talking about how people always ask him to play it but they never do. Yes, go on, I thought in my head. Then, as the notes started coming through the speakers I about leaped out of my seat. The next nearly fifteen minutes were some of the best minutes of my life. I sat with the biggest smile on my face as Al told the tale of his made-up life in Albuquerque. Sure, he made this song to just annoy the crap out of people for nearly twelve minutes but this song is a song that I proudly tell people I know every word to. Just a couple of weeks ago I drove to Iowa with my brother and, as soon as “Albuquerque” came on, he and I started singing along to see who could last the longest. Do you care about any of this? No. Did I really need to spend an entire paragraph about this song? No. The fact is, this is one of those moments that I had been waiting for for years and it finally happened. It was absolutely everything I could have asked for and then some.
Although it was a scaled back show, Al’s humor didn’t take a backstage. Throughout the hour and a half long set he had the audience roaring with laughter. When he first took the stage he announced that what would make this tour so different was the fact that the band is just going to play Smash Mouth’s “All Star” over and over again. Although that didn’t happen, the band did break into the song on various occasions for a couple of bars. When Al and the band came back out for their two song encore, they finally gave the crowd the full song which was admittedly super fun to sing along to. Closing out the show, Al announced that he wanted to close with one of this favorite B-sides of all time. The group jumped into “The Saga Begins” which is his Stars Wars parody of “American Pie”. Okay, so maybe not a B-side but I think the entire audience knew that Al couldn’t go a whole night without play that song and, let’s be honest, the audience couldn’t leave before hearing that banger of a song.
I could go on and on about how amazing last night was. From the ridiculously appropriate song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” to the lounge-style medley he did including “Eat It”, “Amish Paradise”, “Smells Like Nirvana”, and so many more of his hits– everything about last night was perfect. I don’t know why I ever worried.
I heard “Albuquerque” live…. I can officially die happy.