Concert Review: Weird "Al" Yankovic Brings the "White and Nerdy" Joy at Broward Center
Weird and wonderful!
Think of Weird Al Yankovic as a rock star with an accordion. He's a gifted satirist, a brilliant comedic actor, and definitely "White and Nerdy" like his parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" states. And so was his crowd at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Saturday night — but in the most delightful way possible. My friend went into the men's room and said it was the weirdest bathroom concert experience in his life. No one looked each other in the eyes, they silently washed their hands with soap, each taking two paper towels to dry them. As this illustrates, it was a polite, awkward group.
But man, were they enthusiastic. Though the set-up there had us all sitting most of the night, there were shouts of admiration from song one. And that song was "Tacky," his take on Pharrell's "Happy." Weird Al was dressed to match, in a mix of wild patterns. "Lame Claim to Fame," also off his newest release, Mandatory Fun, got the white and nerdies oooh-ing and ahhh-ing.
Yankovic's show was segmented off by clips of Weird Al pop culture references and appearances, almost all of which had the audience in stitches. This included everything from Scooby-Doo, Tim and Eric, The Simpsons, Epic Rap Battles in History, The Colbert Report, a Weird Al accordion version of Whiplash complete with blood on the keys. One of the finest moments was his "Now I Call That Polka" bit. He did a magnificent polka medley with accordion in hand and the videos for the songs he was covering showing overhead. There was some Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball", Psy's "Gangnam Style," Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," and he closed out with Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" in a rainstorm of bubbles. He even snuck in Pitbull and Ke$ha's "Timber," which was actually filmed not far from the theater in Davie at Round Up.
The man emerged in full Gaga gear for "Perform This Way." He had a purple, plush octopus dress and upside down ice cream cone hat. The whole band was dressed to kill too. When we interviewed Yankovic a few weeks back, he told us about playing with what he called the best musicians in the world, his band, which he's been with since the beginning. They truly were on board 100% and sang and played like champs. The drummer was dressed like a nun during this song and the guitarist had a swiss cheese hat on. The next costume change was into Devo gear for "Dare to Be Stupid."
When the intro to "Fat" played on screen, the crowd started yelling again. One big dude behind me screamed, "Go for It!" And out came Yankovic in a fat suit, yelling and point to parts of the crowd who cried out in return. A guy in a Santa suit came out and Al punched him, his "teeth" flying everywhere. Another pleaser was "Foil," a play on Lorde's "Royals." Someone walked onstage and strapped an apron on Yankovic for that one. Throughout the concert, people brought out various props like a robe and reclining chair for "Inactive," and put them on or around the singer. During "Smells Like Nirvana" two cheerleaders cheered and he gargle-sang a verse before throwing the Solo cup of water on the lucky people in the front rows. He even fake-played left-handed like Kurt Cobain.
The highlight was "Wanna B Ur Lovr" when Yankovic came out in a Dick Tracy-like suit singing great lines like: My love for you is like diarrhea/I just can't hold it in. He came down into the crowd, humping ladies faces, singing really close to their mugs, waving his butt around. The lucky gals being serenaded were projected on the screen, so everyone could enjoy their reactions. One dude was even dressed up like Weird Al in about the fourth row. Once back on stage, Yankovic unbuttoned his shirt, wiped his hands on chest, anointing the crowd with his sweat. He rounded it out with ra falsetto scream.
There was a sort of a jazzy acoustic-like medley that kicked off with a Clapton-sounding guitar intro, but they went straight into "Eat It." Sitting on chairs like in the "More Than Words" video, this included "I Love Rocky Road" and "Like a Surgeon" for which he went full-on soulful. "White and Nerdy," as mentioned before, was a theme for the eve, and out Al came, riding around on Segway with a red do-rag singing his heart out.
People were still sitting but you could feel their energy. They were crazy psyched to hear "Word Crimes" and "Amish Paradise" — to which they waved their hands from side to side. Big ups to the guy in the box seat near stage left waving a T-shirt and singing along passionately. At this point, a few folks were dancing a bit.
Yankovic's exit was hilarious and included a long, Monty Python-style explanation as to why he couldn't keep performing. Someone came out with a flashy James Brown cape and draped it on his shoulders. "Do you want some more?" he yelled, adding something like, "Well, I can't give you more. I just explained why."
The standing ovation coupled with chants of "Weird Al!" were rewarded with a wonderful encore complete with Storm Troopers, R2-D2, Darth Vader, and a full starry lit up stage. Yankovic was dressed like Han Solo. They, and the whole audience, sang "The Saga Begins" and "We all have cell phones, so come on let's get real!" (Something pulled from a Michael Stipe interview that had just shown a few minutes before) "Stand up and wave them." Next was "Yoda" during he asked us all to sing, then he said, "Now just this guy!" The guy in the front row did as he was told.
The show closed out with a crazy beatbox type scatting with parts of songs mixed in. It really showed Yancovic's and his bandmates' range. They're really magnificent. Three of them making these complex sounds all in unison, the starry lights changing colors around them. The crowd started running down the aisles before filing out with big smiles on their faces. My friend made a good point. Al does something for them that no one else does. He makes songs like "Ridin'" relatable to a whole different crowd. They get to see themselves in these songs and truly enjoy the tunes. But as we all saw, he's not pandering, he's actually just a genius on every level and it was a pleasure to be in his white and nerdy presence.
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