Artpark’s “Tuesdays in the Park” concert this week was definitely weird.
Not weird as in strange, but weird as in Al Yankovic. He brought his “Strings Attached” tour to Lewiston – complete with a top-notch backing band, a 41-piece orchestra, numerous video packages, and, of course, unique costume changes.
His setlist was the subject of much chatter amongst concertgoers, who noticed “Weird Al” wasn’t performing two signature Michael Jackson song parodies. The artist recently told Billboard he omitted “Fat” and “Eat It” from his summer shows in light of “Leaving Neverland.” The documentary painted “The King of Pop” as a predator, and Yankovic said he didn’t want his fans to feel uncomfortable.
Instead, songs such as “Jeopardy,” “Like A Surgeon,” “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” “Word Crimes” and “Jurassic Park” left the audience laughing hysterically. Yankovic drew an army of cell phones when he twice entered the crowd – once for his love-busting “One More Minute,” and again for his sorta-sultry, but also icky “Tacky.”
What really impressed the almost 5,000 in attendance was Yankovic’s over-the-top parodies “Smells Like Nirvana,” “White and Nerdy” and especially “Amish Paradise.” For each song, Yankovic was dressed in full music video attire.
Following Yankovic’s regular set, he returned for an epic “Star Wars”-themed encore, complete with Jedi costumes, Darth Vader, Storm Troopers, and a “Lola”-inspired ode to Yoda.
It was a weird atmosphere at Artpark, to be certain, but mainly because it was a different audience with a distinctive, welcoming vibe. That’s to be expected with Yankovic, the top-selling comedy musician of all time.
More than anything, Tuesday was fun. It was a wildly amusing show – and one in which we all took note of a few glaring facts. Namely, Yankovic is a creative and lyrical genius; his fervor and enthusiasm are incredible – it was something to watch a man literally jump into songs he’s performed nightly for decades (and, yes, literally is used properly, so put down those crowbars); and he is distinctively significant in pop culture: Yankovic (his name at least) has appeared in myriad programs, including “The Simpsons,” “Friends,” “Family Guy,” “The Naked Gun” and “Jeopardy.” He also starred in the 1989 cult classic "UHF."
Philip Burke paints "Weird Al"