Editor's note: This is the third in a series of pieces examining public figures named "Al." So far, we've deconstructed Al Sharpton and Al Gore. Perhaps Al-Jazeera is next, though we made that empty promise weeks ago.
Last night, the dorks of Nashville descended upon the Gaylord Entertainment center to see their hero, Weird Al Yankovic, on tour to promote his recent album of pop song parodies, Poodle Hat. The crowd ranged from 14-year-old boys in Ozzy Osborne T-shirts to overweight, middle-aged couples decked out in Weird Al memorabilia. One man stood on a chair and held up the sign, "Weird Al for Pres," which provoked more enthusiasm than either of the actual presidential candidates have managed to inspire recently. Two teenage girls scrawled the word "Al" all over their legs in marker, while a family of five walked around with stuffed poodles strapped onto their heads. They took the album title to heart, it seems.
The less devoted, more mentally stable fans watched the crowd with disdainful amusement, but once the concert started and Weird Al danced onto the stage in a Hawaiian T-shirt playing a polka medley that included songs by Papa Roach, The Hives, The White Stripes and Kid Rock, they cheered just as loudly as everyone else.
Say what you will about Weird Al Yankovic, but the man knows how to perform. Each song required a costume change (after all, what fun is a Nelly parody if you can't dress up in hip-hop gear and stick a Band-Aid on your face) and a choreographed dance. During the costume changes, he entertained the audience with video footage of celebrity interviews, editing the answers such that Eminem admitted his homosexuality and Celine Dion claimed her parents were captured and eaten by ravenous cannibals.
The highlight of the show was the tune, "One More Minute," in which Yankovic serenaded female audience members with heartwarming lines like, "I'd rather get a hundred thousand paper cuts on my face/Than spend one more minute with you." He later targeted the females again when, dressed in a white leisure suit, he performed, "Wanna B Ur Lovr," a sleazy song full of bad pick-up lines such as, "My love for you is like diarrhea; I just can't hold it in."
Yankovic performed each number flawlessly and with an ease that can only come with months of meticulous rehearsal. If anyone had wondered before how a man could make a living with accordion-powered parody songsa perfectly reasonable curiositya seat at this concert put all doubts to rest. He hit all the notes, paced himself perfectly with the special effects and video and engaged the audience like the veteran professional that he is. It's no wonder that he's worked steadily since the early 1980s.
As if he weren't weird enough, Yankovic makes faces when he sings. He widens his eyes and flares his nostrils for no apparent reason, and sometimes even affects a look of horror or disgust mid-song. During the peppier songs, he gives the audience a deadpan stare completely incongruous with the music.
Weird Al ended the show with his two Star Wars songs, "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda"parodies of "American Pie" and "Lola," respectivelywhich made his geeky fan base nearly ecstatic. If you missed him in Nashville, you can see him Sept. 3 in Knoxville and then again Sept. 4 in Myrtle Beach. Or you can wait a couple years; he's sure to tour here again, weirder and catchier than ever.