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"Weird Al" Yankovic At Beacon Theater, Sunday, October 23rd, 2011, Reviewed

Weird Al Yankovic is a chameleon and given his distinct appearances: a hook nose, a mass of curly hair and a tall thin carriage, like a human ivescarecrow, I wonder how he pulls it off.

At Beacon Theater Sunday night, he was a Jedi Warrior, Michael Jackson, a fat Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain for starters… and this with essentially zero stage effects.

Hitting the floor at 715p on the dot, he played hits, quite a few from his latest album Alpocalyse, some live, some on video, some a couple of lines, some extended and in two hours took you through all points West of his career -now in its third decade.

The set began with Al wearing his accordion for a polka arranged rush through pop hits near and far: A lively "Poker Face" here, a lively "I Kissed A Girl" there, a lively "Tik Tok" everywhere anf back to Poker (yes, we got it) to end the lively  medley.

Next is one of two absolute highlights of the night. With a straight up rock band backing him, Al played a sincerely brilliant "TMZ" where all the satiric qualities (it is a very accurate take on the Paparazzi takedown to the tune of Taylor Swift's "You Belong To Me").

After this the set is less even, long breaks for wardrobe changes are filled with admittedly amusing Al-TV videos, where he takes celebrity interviews from other sources and cuts his own questions in. The concept of weird Al is that he is essentially playing gently with celebs. But the Jessica Simpson interview is quite cruel,  Avril Lavigne comes across as incoherent (so does Keith Richards for other reasons) and Eminem as a complete asshole. As well as various examples of Weird Al's effect on the zeitgeist from the Simpson's to Jeopardy is also reviewed.

Meanwhile,  Yankovic has zero stage effects, except rock band ready lights and videos. The third empty Beacon maybe one reason for that, though it isn't particularly missed. It isn't missed at all in one satiric and one parodic highlight. The satiric highlight was "Smells Like Nirvana", ("no we don't sound like Madonna…") with cheerleaders a la the iconic Nirvana video, the band in jeans and flannel shirts and Al in a blonde wig as he falls on his back and crawls on the floor. The song nails Nirvana's appeal pretty well -he explains what it funs.

Just as good is a parody of the Doors, an original song "Craigslist" doesn't connect back to Jim Morrison, but in skin tight leather pants and willowy white pirate shirt, Al actually channels Jim as he takes down Craig's List "An open letter to the snotty barista at the coffeee bean…" he obnoxiously details, eventually concluding "No tip for you!" later in the song comes the piece de resistance, a brilliant cataloging of the conditions in which you can pick up his free syropfoam peanuts. By the end of this, Al has gone further than the record (which featured Ray Manzarek on keyboards!) and seems to have reached inside to channel Jim even though the words are pure nonsense "Do you want my styrofoam peanuts…" he intones lower and lower and lower until he reaches complete silence before blowing up the joint. The audience roars its approval.

A little later there is another accordion medley only this time of Al Hits, and, this truly remarkable impressionist, becomes Michael Jackson by the simple expedience of putting on a red leather jacket and singing "Eat It".

The set was essentially the one he has been playing throughout the tour except, "Amish Paradise" substitutes for "Another Tattoo". It ends with his Star Wars story to"American Pie and finally, the band becomes a crushing rock band again for "Yoda".

I wish Al had more money, I wish the production values were higher. But given what he had at, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. As Homer Simpson put it: "If you're too tired for Weird Al you're too tired for life".

Grade: B+

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