Weird Al Toronto

Weird Al is hit and miss at Massey Hall

Is Weird Al Yankovic still relevant? The hundreds who packed in at Massey Hall on Saturday night seem to think so.

I must confess, I used to love Weird Al when I was a nerdy teen. That was back in the day, when Eat It was playing in heavy rotation on Toronto Rocks. Now in the age of YouTube, Weird Al has found a global audience, his videos racking up millions of internet views. But does his live show cut it?

This is Weird Al's Alpocalypse tour, supporting his 13th album of the same name. This show relies heavily on the widescreen video above the stage to provide context to his parodies. Good thing, too. With such poor audio quality in the side balcony, I could barely make out most of the lyrics otherwise. You'd think the audio problems would be figured out after the early show., but they never really got a handle on it. Pity.

Weird Al's band is made up of aging dudes playing guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. But what they lack in youth they make up for in attitude. Most of what appears on the screen is flash-based animation. Without all this visual stimuli, watching the band go through all their video-based hits without video would be kind of boring.

Plenty of newer songs fall completely flat. Like the one about a 2,000-inch TV that ironically could've used the big screen much more effectively. The four pre-teens behind me appear bored and restless for most of the show.

Just then, Weird Al screams out, "Are you ready to rock?" And the crowd cheers. "Yeah, I was afraid of that," he replies. This next one's a ballad." He then proceeds to sing the acoustic "You Just Don't Love Me Anymore," a cleverly penned break-up tune -- the first song I can make out the lyrics to. A few nerdy boys around me pull out their iPhone Bics and start waving them over their heads.

At the end of the ballad, Weird Al goes berserk and smashes his acoustic guitar into smithereens. The crowd gives its biggest cheer yet. Even the young kids behind me perk up.

Then it's back to the video screen for an extended viewing of Al TV, which I remember seeing on MuchMusic sometime in the '90s. We get an interview with Eminem. Followed by Jessica Simpson. Then a brief bit of Brain Freeze sung to the tune of Nirvana's Rape Me.

All this time, Weird Al and the band had been preparing for their first transformation: Smells Like Nirvana, complete with cheerleaders. That's more like it!

One of the funniest video clips shown is one with Alanis Morissette: Weird Al is hanging out of her car as she sings Ironic. Perhaps we needed more Canadian content in this show? The Avril Lavigne interview clip actually gets me to LOL. But then we got this too-long song about Charles Nelson Reilly. Seriously.

Next up, a 30-second parody of The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Hog, er... Dog. Then finally, Weird Al connects with the audience doing Canadian Idiot, a la Green Day. If only I could make out the undoubtedly clever lyrics (see video clip, above).

Back on stage in a leopard skin leisure suit, Weird Al finally gets the show off the ground. He waltzes into the audience, serenading women in the crowd with lines like "My love for you's like diarrhea; I just can't hold it in" during Wanna B Ur Lovr. But he's no Prince. Charming!

The rest of the show is hit-and-miss. With the misses being the eBay song and I Want A New Duck.

Just as I begin to wonder where are his biggest hits, he busts onto the stage with his band, all dressed in black, donning big beards for Amish Paradise. At last! The choir of Mennonites on the screen is a nice touch.

For White and Nerdy, his most successful parody since the '80s, Weird Al takes the stage on a Segway while the rest of the band is dressed their nerdy best. As is the audience, by the looks of it. Could it get any geekier?

Sure enough, Weird Al is back with an encore. But what could out-nerd White and Nerdy? Star Wars or Star Trek, take your pick.

Leave it to Weird Al to pull off an entire song sung in Klingon. Then, dressed in Star Wars garb, accompanied by 12 white stormtroopers and R2D2, he sings The Saga Begins to the tune of American Pie. I even spot two guys in the balcony who've brought light sabres to the concert. OMGWTFBBQ!

Photo of Weird Al in concert on a previous tour by Jeff Diogenes on Flickr

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