Last Saturday night Ben and I went to see ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic live at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Find out what we thought in the aptly named Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory Fun Tour Review.
Firstly it was packed, standing room only, but luckily Ben and I managed to get close enough to the stage to actually see what was happening. Or at least I could see what was happening, I expect little Ben Coleman had a tougher time seeing the stage than I did. This was his view for the first part of the show:
Thankfully the guy with the big shoulder moved out of the way pretty early on, so Ben could enjoy the show. There wasn’t much room either, so I had to try my best not to accidentally touch people’s thighs, outer or inner. But I must have stunk badly because by the end of the show everyone had moved as far away from me as they could, leaving me a big space in which to do star jumps.
Also, people kept moving from the centre of the crowd to go to the toilet, so everyone had to move for them, which was bloody annoying. When you pick a place to stand during a concert, you commit to that spot, if you need the toilet during the show you either A) give up your spot, go to the toilet and find somewhere else to stand afterwards – don’t worry about your friends you’ll see them after the show – or B) stand by the toilets throughout the show as a just in case. If you want to go to the bar either stand by it, or – and hear me out here – you buy a drink from a shop BEFORE the show. I understand that you can’t take glass bottles into these places (there were bag searches before going into the venue), so what you do there is you get a bottle or can of whatever and pour it into an empty plastic bottle. Simple. No one’s gonna care what you’re drinking your Jägermeister out of, and even if they do, so what, you’re never gonna see them again. Anyway, rant over, onto the concert itself.
Anyone familiar with ‘Weird’ Al’s music knows he does parodies of popular songs. His career started in the mid-late seventies, recording his first single My Bologna in the men’s bathroom. But enough with the history lesson, let’s actually talk about the show. He opened with Tacky, a parody of Pharrell Williams’ Happy from his latest album Mandatory Fun. His entrance was great too, a camera followed him from outside the venue as he sang his way through the backdoor and onto the stage.
During the show he performed other songs from his new album including Foil, a parody of Royals by Lorde; Word Crimes, a parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines; Lame Claim to Fame, which parodies the style of Southern Culture on the Skids; First World Problems, which parodies the style of The Pixies; and well as a Polka medley of various songs including Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, Pumped up Kicks by Foster the People, and everyone’s favourite South Korean hit, Gangnam Style.
He did a lot of his classics, including Another One Rides the Bus, Gump, and an acoustic version of Eat It in a jazz style. In between songs, Al would leave the stage and videos would play, which included mostly clips of Al in film and TV – in shows like 30 Rock, Robot Chicken and Adventure Time – and clips of him being referenced in shows – like The Big Bang Theory, The Cleveland Show and King of the Hill. As well as this there were fake interviews with Michael Stipe and Eminem. These short intervals of footage worked well to entertain the crowd and showcase Al’s popularity and career. There were also a number of funny clips that neither Ben nor I had seen before.
The reason for this was to allow Al to get into costume for certain songs, so when he performed Amish Paradise, for example, he wore his Amish costume as seen in the music video, for Smells like Nirvana he dressed as Curt Kobain, for Fat he wore a fat suit, and for White and Nerdy he rode on stage on a segway.
‘Weird’ Al is definitely a top class showman, he wasn’t here just to sell his album; he didn’t just perform songs from his new album with a couple older songs thrown in (like Band of Horses did), he performed his most popular songs and even did it in costume, which just shows the level of commitment right there. He didn’t have to do that, but he did and it really added to the songs and the overall enjoyment of the crowd, making the performance visually interesting as well as musically.
Speaking of the crowd, they were well into it. They were dancing, waving their hands in the air and singing along. Most of them knew all the words to all the songs he did too. There were some people who sang all the way through the show. There were even fans dressed up. We spotted one guy in an Amish outfit (complete with beard) and a man dressed in a surgeon’s outfit. Admittedly the latter may have been a surgeon who’d come straight from work, but since he was paired with the Amish guy all night, that seems unlikely.
‘Weird’ Al closed the show with Amish Paradise before leaving the stage only to return for an encore where, dressed as a Jedi Knight, he performed The Saga Begins from Running with Scissors and Yoda from Dare to be Stupid, with a little Mighty Boosh style Crimping midway through.
Overall, it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. The only negative I have is my legs were killing me after standing up for over three hours, but I didn’t really mind that too much because the show was that damn good. Here’s a short video with some clips that Ben got during the show:
Our rating: (5 / 5)