By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer
In one word, Weird Al Yankovic’s Strings Attached concert was bonkers. Prior to going to this concert, I knew about Weird Al, but I didn’t know him very well — my only real exposure to him being my friends belting out his pop parodies in our teenage years. So when I walked into the ornate Queen Elizabeth Theatre on August 19, I was . . . confused. I knew Weird Al’s Strings Attached tour featured a live symphony orchestra, but what did that mean for a musician that I had primarily associated with cartoon music videos and polka?
Well, for starters, as my friend and I gazed upon the crowd, we caught sight of a lot of young families seated around us. Some were dressed semi-formally for the theatre, but others were dressed in colourful three-piece suits with top hats — they looked like Dr. Seuss characters! As we took our seats and joined them, the show began. We all sat and cheered as a 42-piece orchestra started the evening with live medleys of Star Wars music, each set gearing us up for the man we were all there to see. Finally, Weird Al took the stage to a roaring crowd.
I’m not sure what I really expected, but his vocals surprised me. His voice rang like a bell, clear and crisp, even through the difficult and high notes. Seemingly with ease, Weird Al traveled through genres, belting out the notes — these were the moments in which I truly appreciated his vocals rather than his lyrics. I didn’t know all of the songs, but I was entranced nonetheless by Weird Al’s powerful stage presence. Coupled with orchestral swells and lots of brassy notes, the music enveloped me in the warmest hug. I was reminded of why I loved being in places like these — anyone at the concert could pick up on the audience’s love for the performer. Their joy was contagious; I whooped and sang along with the crowd wherever I could.
That was another thing that I appreciated — Weird Al had an awesome setlist. His songs ranged from throwbacks like “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” which was released in 1989, to more modern, iconic tracks like “White and Nerdy.” Weird Al performed the latter number on a segway without a stutter.
Weird Al would joke with the audience between numbers, running up and down flights of stairs in the theatre and interacting with us. He was clearly an experienced performer and loved the stage, which is always fantastic to see.
During the frequent costume changes between songs, clips of Weird Al’s numerous collaborations and cameos played on stage. He’s appeared on various cartoon shows, from The Simpsons to the more recent Teen Titans Go. If I didn’t know before, it was crystal clear how much of a cultural impact Weird Al’s music has had in North America. A song was doubly famous if Weird Al parodied it; for example, after Weird Al covered Nirvana’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (titled “Smells Like Nirvana”), a million more units of the band’s second record Nevermind were apparently sold.
Weird Al came to deliver to fans that were there for his obscure tracks and the ones that were there for his pop parodies. Even if his music still felt comparatively new to me, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the show. Weird Al is an enthusiastic and talented performer with unparalleled stage presence, and it’s no wonder that he’s been in the game for so long.