The oldies but goodies – “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “I Love Rocky Road” and “Like a Surgeon” – were relegated to a medley at the top of the show. “Eat It” made its only appearance via video during a costume change.
And that was OK. Because when it comes to the catalog of “Weird Al” Yankovic, there’s plenty to love and laugh along with.
On Sunday at Northern Quest, the king of musical parodies had no trouble filling out a setlist of original comedy tracks and the parodies he made famous. There was the paean to proper grammar, “Word Crimes,” Yankovic’s riff on the Robin Thicke hit “Blurred Lines,” and “Amish Paradise,” which remade Coolio’s hip-hop hit “Gangsta’s Paradise.” There was the Devo spoof “Dare to the Stupid” and “Jurassic Park,” which mashes up the classic movie with the iconic 1978 hit from Donna Summer, “MacArthur Park.” And don’t forget the fan favorites “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” and “Weasel Stomping Day.”
What made the show stand out, aside from Yankovic’s trademark humor, is the fact that Yankovic is a talented guy. Also? He was backed by a number of talented musicians. A large number, in fact. Besides his normal backing band and singer, Yankovic shared the stage with a a 41-piece orchestra that included at least some members of the Spokane Symphony.
It made for a full evening that kicked off with an orchestra-only set of film music by the incomparable John Williams: “The Raiders March” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the theme from “Superman” and “The Throne Room/End Title” themes from “Star Wars.”
After a 20-minute intermission, Yankovic and his band joined the symphony on stage to his traditional walk-up song, “Fun Zone.” After a breezy medley of “Jeopardy,” “Rocky Road” and “Surgeon,” he dived into a nearly 90-minute set.
The costume changes and video were there, and so were delicious details.
He wandered into the crowd, gifting sweaty scarves and a pair of boxers to audience members, a la Elvis Presley. He sat as roadies wiped his brow and served him cocktails during “Jurassic Park.” He pulled a James Brown before the encore, complete with glittery cape, as he practically begged the crowd to beg for more. “Smells Like Nirvana” was spot on, too. Yankovic, sporting a green-and-yellow-striped sweater and a blond wig, channeled Kurt Cobain, while bassist Steve Jay slung his bass down around his knees, a la Krist Novoselic. He came rolling in on a Segway for “White and Nerdy,” and the symphony musicians stood out all night, but especially on “Amish Paradise.”
For the encore, it was all “Star Wars” all the time. Dressed in Jedi attire and backed by an array of “Star Wars” characters, Yankovic pulled out all the stops for “The Saga Begins,” the story of young Anakin Skywalker set to Don McLean’s “American Pie.” The song is among Yankovic’s best and can get stuck in your head for days.
After giving the orchestra, conducted by Eric Roth, one more time to shine with a performance of the main “Star Wars” theme, Yankovic launched into “Yoda,” a riff on the Kinks’ “Lola”:
“Well, I’ve been around, but I ain’t never seen
A guy who looks like a Muppet, but he’s wrinkled and green
Oh, my Yoda
Then it was over, and people were smiling. Because that’s what “Weird Al” Yankovic does.
This story has been updated. The ending was garbled due to an editing error.
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