By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–June 5, 2019
“Weird Al” Yankovic kicked off his Strings Attached-2019 Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida, with an audience packed to the rafters with parody lovers. The audience appeared to be a mix of teens and possibly parents, considering the sea of salt and pepper locks and receding hairlines. The tour, featuring “Weird Al” in all his glory, and backed by a full symphony, will sweep its way across America all summer, terminating on September 1st in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The evening opened with a full symphony, likely composed of local musicians and conducted by composer/musician Arnie Roth. For approximately 15 minutes, the symphony warmed up the crowd with John William’s favorites like theme songs from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mission Impossible, and Superman.
After a brief intermission, Yankovic walked on the stage, wearing his trademark Hawaiian shirt, was supported by his regular band, female back-up singers, and the 40+ member symphony. He began the evening with a medley of his 80s hits like “Like a Surgeon”, “I Love Rocky Road”, and “I Lost on Jeopardy”. Yankovic chatted with the audience saying, “This is the first show of the tour. It’s a rehearsal for Fort Lauderdale.”
Yankovic played a series of familiar and recent hits, complete with accompanying videos, projected at the rear of the stage, which added to songs like “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”, “Word Crimes” and “Tacky”. Yankovic gave a hint to the next song, saying “Here’s a song for the lady I know I won’t see again, “and began singing the doo-wop ode to an ex, “One More Minute”.
Chuckling, Yankovic warned, “I know what you are looking for—a drum solo!”. Much to the crowd’s delight, he began singing his hysterical parody “Jurassic Park”, based on the tune of “McArthur Park”.
I recall the time they found those fossilized mosquitoes
And before long, they were cloning DNA
Now I’m being chased by some irate velociraptors
Well, believe me this has been one lousy day
In the middle of the orchestral part, Yankovic received a short massage from a back-up singer and was served a cocktail by a waiter that resembled Jeeves. Sheer comic timing!
More comedic chaos continued with Yankovic announcing he “helps people who are downtrodden”, jumping into a “We Are the World”-like anthem, “Don’t Download this Song”. Later, he announced that “June 5th is a special day” and “I hope you’ll join us” in celebrating Weasel Stomping Day, while he and the band donned Viking hats, singing,
Put your favorite Viking helmet
Spread that mayonnaise on the lawn,
Don’t you know it’s Weasel Stomping Day.
Other fun parodies, which included costume changes, were “Smells Like Nirvana” (dressed like Kurt Cobain, of course); the hip-hop anthem “Amish Paradise”, and “Dare to be Stupid” (wearing yellow jumpsuits and red Devo hats).
More craziness ensued with Yankovic announcing a “song that never has been performed in 35 years of touring…and it means a lot to me personally. It needed a full symphonic orchestra”. The band members then paid homage to “Harvey the Wonder Hamster”.
During the entire show, I was taken as to how well Yankovic can really sing! He is really a multi-talented entertainer and comedian, which made me giggle like a teen while video shorts, including a PSA regarding dirt, an interview with Madonna, cuts from cartoons (Simpsons, Family Guy) that have referenced him, and a hysterical Funny-or-Die mockumentary of his life Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. I laughed out loud as I had visions of A Star Is Born but with a guy donning a Hawaiian shirt, accordion, and long curly locks.
Although probably Yankovic saved the best for last by entering the stage on a Segway, singing “White and Nerdy”, with videos of Donny Osmond dancing on the screen, and finally the encore, which included Star War stormtroopers for “The Saga Begins.”
Honestly, the Strings Attached Tour 2019 is a must-see concert this summer. Get out of the heat, take the kids, and be prepared to laugh!
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