[ATTENDED: June 16, 2015] WEIRD AL YANKOVIC-Live at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center.
This is my sixth “Weird Al” concert, and this was the best one yet. Indeed, this may have been the best concert I’ll ever see because I had third row seats, and I am certain I will never get the like of that again. It was also Tabitha’s first rock show. (And Clark’s second). We used the big yellow ear muffs from the Monster Truck show and protected our precious kiddies’ ears. Sarah and I opted not to wear plugs. I decided not to because although it was loud, the sound was much better (and less painful) than when we saw Al in this venue two years ago.
I was supposed to get seats for my friend Matt and his family and I, but when I got the order in, I could only get 4 tickets, so he had to fend for himself. He wound up getting VIP tickets, so although he was a few rows behind us, he did get a pretty cool pre-show extravaganza. So we each had a win there.
In my write up from the last show, I said we’d wait around after the show for an autograph, but by the time Al came out it was 11:15 and we needed to get home (too late on a school night). Although once again Matt stayed and got an autograph on his vinyl In 3D album. Next time I will definitely stay and I’m going to bring my debut vinyl album.
While there were many same songs from past shows, something felt newer this time around. There was a lot less banter with the crowd and they didn’t save favorites like “Fat” until the end. It was also really cool to see him from so close, to see just what it was like to be “part” of a show.
How so? Well, during “Smells Like Nirvana,” after the gargle solo, Al threw the water on the first few rows and some landed on Sarah and Tabby (which is pretty darned exciting for your first show).
But even more exciting, was later in the show when he did “I Wanna B Ur Lovr.” Last time we were close enough to the front to see him walk around and flirt with the ladies. This time, he sat on the lap of a lady in the row in front of us, mere feet from Tabby! And then when the song was ending he made direct eye contact with Sarah and sang a line to her
You must have fallen from heaven…
That would explain how you messed up your face
He started the show with “Tacky” and like when he played it on Conan, he started singing from in the hallways of the Sands (past where we were all waiting to get in). And what a tacky outfit he had on.
The crowd was on its feet as he came marching up the aisle to the stage. And then in true “Weird Al” fashion, we all sat down for the show. It’s a weird dynamic. I know that these fans are dedicated (half of the people near us did the VIP deal and were in costume), but there’s not a lot of noise coming from the crowd (lets assume it is rapt attention and respect).
After “Tacky” they played the celebrity wannabe song “Lame Claim to Fame,” and it was great being right in front of guitarist Jim West just to see how amazing he is.
And then came the wonderful medley “Now That’s What I Call Polka.” I was commenting to Sarah how the most inappropriate images come not from Al, but from the clips of real videos he covers in this medley.
Speaking of videos, for each costume change, the band needs time to switch, so Al plays clips from all kinds of things (the source materials has grown dramatically over the years). He plays a clip of nearly any show that has mentioned him. He also shows clips from when he is animated in shows. He also shows clips from his movie and his shows. And he showed the awesome FunnyorDie fake biography “Weird.” But the best is when he shows fake interviews which are so funny. I wish they could be released somewhere, but no one would ever give permission for that.
This time we got Celine Dion, Eminem (know what I’m saying?), and Michael Stipe (who inadvertently provided the lyrics for “We All Have Cellphones.”)
Then Al came out in a giant purple octopus costume (even at third row my phone still couldn’t get a clear picture of it), but I did get a picture of West with a cheese on his head. And then a big surprise and callback to days of old with the Devo inspired “Dare to Be Stupid.” I thought the kids might recognize the outfits from the Mark Motherbaugh Retrospective we saw in Denver, and they kind of did a little bit.
Then came “Fat” and a rocking version of “First World Problems.” And then he came back out on for a brief but very funny version of “Foil” (there were tons of foil hats in the audience–I had considered making one, but forgot).
After “Smells Like Nirvana” (a song I feel he could possibly retire since he has so many other new good songs, but we wouldn’t have gotten hit with water), he played a big medley of his own songs. I liked that he spanned all the way from “Another One Rides the Bus” to “Handy.” And while I don’t love “Ode to a Superhero,” (to the tune of “Piano Man”) I do love that he has a roadie come out to hold the harmonica for him (who acts bored).
He ended the medley with “Canadian Idiot” and, just like last time, red and white streamers fell from the rafters. The kids were pretty excited to collect as many as they could.
Then Came “Lovr” which was outstanding. Even when he wasn’t right in our faces, he was pulling girls up from the audience and doing ridiculous things with them. Hilarious.
The biggest surprise was the “unplugged” medley of old songs. The band came to the front of the stage and started playing the music of “Layla” which they turned into “Eat It.” It was pretty cool. They did a whole slew of old songs in this new folksy style and it really sparked life into these older songs. I also love that he didn’t say anything about this–they just sat down and did it. During “I Lost on Jeopardy” he had a vocal only clip from Don Pardo (R.I.P.) doing the bit from the song. I’ve never heard it without the music behind it before and it was pretty neat how the band watched the monitor as Don yelled at Al.
Then Al came out on his segway for “White & Nerdy” (it’s hard to get a picture of someone zooming on a segway). And then a great rendition of “Word Crimes” (how could I have forgotten he would play that?).
For the close, they played “Amish Paradise” and he ended the main set with a hilarious James Brown bit in which he talked about how he would love to play for us all night but it would be so impractical. They put on his cape, which he threw of and ran back and asked if we wanted more and then said that he already told us he couldn’t do that. Wonderfully executed.
The encore opened with “We All Have Cell Phones” (and we did) and then there was the by now standard encore of “The Saga Begins” and “Yoda.” Before the show we tried to get the kids into “The Saga Begins,” although I’m not sure if they sang along. But I know they liked seeing the stormtroopers come out.
It was an amazing show. Tabitha was so pumped by the end (and I saw her dancing a few times). Clark is harder to read as he was very tired. But I think he enjoyed it too.
What concert will they go to next?
Since I found out the dates of the shows I have seen Al in the past, I now present six setlists worth of shows. Note that the 1999 & 2000 shows were part of the same tour and were thus identical. Boo. But the 2010 and 2013 shows which were also part of the same tour (sort of) were changed a bit. The biggest surprise to me was how few songs there were from his previous album. But that’s okay, there were lots of new ones to play (although I would have loved “CNR” again).
Oh, and if you’re in the Bethlehem Sands, do stop for the disco fries (see photo after setlists)
|1996 Wilkes Barre, PA||1999 Wilkes Barre, PA||2000 Morristown, NJ|
|Since You’ve Been Gone||Gump||Gump|
|Gump||Polka Power||Polka Power|
|The Alternative Polka||Jerry Springer||Jerry Springer|
|One More Minute||My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder||My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder|
|Like a Surgeon||The Night Santa Went Crazy||The Night Santa Went Crazy|
|Melanie||Dare to Be Stupid||Dare to Be Stupid|
|Headline News||It’s All About the Pentiums||It’s All About the Pentiums|
|I’ll Repair for You||Germs||Germs|
|The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota||One More Minute||One More Minute|
|Jurassic Park||Like a Surgeon||Like a Surgeon|
|Laundry Day / Chicken Pot Pie / Spam / My Bologna / Alimony / Syndicated Inc. / Another One Rides the Bus / Gee I’m a Nerd / Achy Breaky Song / Phony Calls / Cavity Search / Green Eggs & Ham /Eat It||Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies / Fast Food / Addicted to Spuds / Free Delivery / Laundry Day / Pretty Fly for a Rabbi / Another One Rides the Bus / I Love Rocky Road / Achy Breaky Song / Jurassic Park / Grapefruit Diet / I Lost on Jeopardy / Eat It||Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies / Fast Food / Addicted to Spuds / Free Delivery / Laundry Day / Pretty Fly for a Rabbi / Another One Rides the Bus / I Love Rocky Road / Achy Breaky Song / Jurassic Park / Grapefruit Diet / I Lost on Jeopardy / Eat It|
|Smells Like Nirvana||Smells Like Nirvana||Smells Like Nirvana|
|Bedrock Anthem||Bedrock Anthem||Bedrock Anthem|
|Amish Paradise||Amish Paradise||Amish Paradise|
|Yoda||The Saga Begins||The Saga Begins|
And the more recent shows:
|2011 New Brunswick, NJ||2013 Bethlehem, PA||2015 Bethlehem, PA|
|Polka Face||Polka Face||Tacky|
|Frank’s 2000″ TV||TMZ||Lame Claim to Fame|
|You Don’t Love Me Anymore||Radio, Radio||Now That’s What I Call Polka|
|Smells Like Nirvana||Smells Like Nirvana||Perform This Way|
|Skipper Dan||Skipper Dan||Dare to be Stupid|
|You’re Pitiful||Party in the CIA||Fat|
|Radio Radio||CNR||First World Problems|
|Perform This Way||Canadian Idiot||Foil|
|CNR||Wanna B Ur Lovr||Smells Like Nirvana|
|Let Me Be Your Hog||Whatever You Like / Another Tattoo||Party in the CIA / It’s All About the Pentiums / Handy / Bedrock Anthem / Another One Rides the Bus / Ode to a Superhero / Gump / Inactive / eBay / Canadian Idiot|
|Canadian Idiot||eBay||Wanna B Ur Lovr|
|Wanna B Ur Lovr||I Want a New Duck /Theme From Rocky XIII / Spam/ My Bologna /Ode to a Superhero||Unplugged Medley: Eat It (done to the tune of Layla) / I Lost on Jeopardy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon|
|Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies / Whatever You Like / Confessions Part III / eBay / Bedrock Anthem / Another One Rides the Bus / Ode to a Superhero / Trapped In The Drive-Thru / Gump / Eat It||Lasagna||White & Nerdy|
|Craigslist||Eat It||Word Crimes|
|Amish Paradise||Amish Paradise||Amish Paradise|
|White & Nerdy||Craigslist||We All Have Cell Phones|
|Fat||Perform This Way||The Saga Begins|
|We All Have Cell Phones||White & Nerdy||Yoda|
|The Saga Begins||Fat|
|Yoda||The Saga Begins|