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Concert Reviews:
Weird Al Yankovic plays for laughs at the Fox Theatre
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

DETROIT -- Weird Al Yankovic knows how to write a funny song. We know that much from three-plus decades of poking -- and polkaing -- fun at pop hits.

But what really establishes Yankovic as the most potent parodist in the game is his ability to turn it into consistently entertaining performance spectacle whose mix of comedic wit and musical precision delighted fans on Saturday night, May 5, at the Fox Theatre.

Over the course of more than two hours, 17 numbers and 14 costume changes, Yankovic and company brought his parodies to life with gleeful theatricality and inventive audio-visual interaction. The opening "Polka Face" medley set the tone, with Yankovic -- sporting a tie-dye T-shirt and brandishing his accordion like lead guitar players sling their axes -- powering through two-step send-ups of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Flo Rida, Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry and more, accompanied by the real videos on a screen at the back of the stage. It was a lot of music from the get-go -- with more to come.

The show centered on Yankovic's 2011 album "Alpolcalypse," which snagged the highest chart positions of his career so far. He dressed as a flamboyant stuffed peacock for the single "Perform This Way" (a parody of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"), in a gray suit and shades for "Party in the CIA" (Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A.") and as an amusingly overdone Jim Morrison for the Doors' tribute "Craigslist." And the Fox crowd certainly appreciated "CNR," a Charles Nelson Reilly salute done in the style of the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," more than fans in most other cities.

The costume changes, meanwhile, were facilitated with video clips ranging from mentions of Yankovic in various TVs and movies as well as the faux celebrity interviews (Samuel L. Jackson, Megan Fox, Uma Thurman and others) that are part of his "Face To Face" series on YouTube's Nerdist channel.

Yankovic mixed in plenty of older favorites as well, including "Amish Paradise" (Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise"), "Smells Like Nirvana" (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), "White & Nerdy" (Chamillionaire's "Ridin' ") and the New Jack R&B-flavored original "Wanna B Ur Lovr," during which he donned a red-and-black tiger suit and bump 'n' grinded his way up and down the Fox's center aisle. A mid-show medley, meanwhile, included his rendition of the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme set to Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing," "My Bologna" (the Knack's "My Sharona") and "Eat It" (Michael Jackson's "Beat It").

Yankovic donned his familiar fat suit for "Fat", his parody of Michael Jackson's "Bad" before encoring with his pair of "Star Wars" songs. A chorus line of Imperial storm troopers, Darth Vader, a massive Chewbacca a twirling R2D2 danced behind him during "The Saga Begins" (Don McLean's "American Pie"), while Yankovic and the group engaged in some nonsensical but impressive vocalics at the end of "Yoda" (the Kinks' "Lola").

All of that mad it hard not to leave the Fox without a smile on your face, certainly, but also with admiration for Yankovic and his band's deft ability to recreate these songs even while putting their own chucklesome spin on them.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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