Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Weird Al' returns to Orange County to deliver more laughs

My review was originally posted on The Orange County Register site on Monday, Aug. 13. A special "thank you" to Kelly A. Swift for the use of her great photo.

"Weird Al" Yankovic in concert on Aug. 12.
In just over two hours Sunday night (Aug. 12, 2012), “Weird Al” Yankovic showcased his talents as comedian, singer, songwriter, music video pioneer and accordionist before yet another delighted near-capacity crowd at Pacific Amphitheatre, this time on the closing night of the OC Fair.

Yankovic, 52, has been a trailblazing satirist since the dawn of MTV but has been able to successfully evolve with the subsequent arrival of the Internet and growth of social media to remain relevant.

In the ’80s and early ’90s he would merely skewer artists with popular parodies bolstered by accompanying videos. He has extended that approach over the years to include creative clips in which he’s seen interviewing everybody from Robert Pattinson and Jeff Bridges to Uma Thurman in a gleeful bashing of celebrities, along with take-downs of Craigslist and eBay and, in the piece “Another Tattoo,” the body-art trend. All of that played a major part of his show in Costa Mesa, allowing him to make quick costume changes at key points.

Mirroring how technology has quickened the pace of our lives, Yankovic’s show raced along as swiftly as features on a smart phone. The blend of live music, effective lighting, wide-ranging videos and rapid pacing all enhanced a series of great one-liners, with even some of his most effective satirical classics (including “My Bologna,” his send-up of the Knack’s “My Sharona”) folded into medleys. Yet the performance was never overwhelmed by that speediness, with Yankovic knowing when to let the show breathe.

Highlights this night included segments for which he would don colorful outfits and perform solid musical versions of some of his best-known songs, in an ADD rush of genres: a modern dance tune for “Perform This Way,” a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”; the urban-styled “White & Nerdy”; a delightful rock attack for “Smells Like Nirvana,” which found Yankovic and members of his backing band in full grunge mode.

Several big moments came toward the end of his set, including a performance of “Eat It” with the star dressed in a fat suit and artfully replicating the moves and vocal gymnastics of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” All the while, fans cheered, laughed and waved their hands.

His encore featured his two Star Wars-themed songs, “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda.” The first, set to the tune of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” was delivered in Jedi attire while Yankovic was surrounded by a number of characters, including R2D2 and Darth Vader. “Yoda,” a rip on the Kinks’ iconic melody for “Lola,” provided an upbeat singalong to a show that blended music and comedy in all the right ways.

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