If you’re anything like my girlfriend, leading into Wednesday night you had absolutely no idea that Weird Al Yankovic does, in fact, write original music. Referred to by Weird Al himself as “All the songs you usually skip over” the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour was his attempt to finally showcase all of his favorites from over the years in one place. Luckily for him, many people are not like my girlfriend, and he was able to sell out two consecutive nights at the Pantages Theatre in Downtown Minneapolis, where I had the pleasure of attending the second, and final show.
With no costume changes, special effects, large video screens, or theatrics of any kind (well, some theatrics), this was unlike any Weird Al show you may have seen in the past. In a press release, he had this to say about the tour: “After 35 years of big productions, I just wanted to take it down a few notches and have a little musical palate cleanser. This show will be loose, unpredictable and maybe a bit sloppy — we’ll be making it up as we go along!”
Heading out on tour with Al to open the show each night is comedian Emo Philips, who you may know from the shows he does at Minneapolis’ ACME Comedy Company every year. It’s always interesting, to me at least, to see how crowds react to opening acts that are not bands or musicians at all. However, if you are familiar with Philip’s career, those worries went away almost immediately. He provided a little over 30-minutes of gut-busting, side-splitting laughter that certainly got the crowd in the correct mindset for the remainder of the show.
At around 8:20, Weird Al’s bandmates started to take their places on stage, and it wasn’t until that moment when I realized that there were chairs on stage for everyone, which helped create a very intimate setting for the show to take place. As they all started taking their seats with their instruments, they immediately launched into the opening notes of “Nature Trail to Hell”, and the show was officially off and running.
After wrapping up the first song, Weird Al took a moment to address the crowd and thank us all for coming out. After asking us if any of the people in attendance also came to the show on the previous night, which received a few scattered “Woo’s!” he said “Well don’t worry, because tonight’s setlist is completely different. You’re going to hear completely different songs!”
Weird Al and his band then played a handful of songs such as “Generic Blues”, “Mr. Popeil,” his ode to father-and-son inventors and pitchmen Samuel and Ron Popeil, and yet another ode to the man he salutes as the “greatest man to ever walk the earth” Charles Nelson Reily, with his song “CNR.”
The highlight of the night for me, however, was seeing him perform the song he describes as “A song that, even if you take all the words and sing them backward, results in the same exact song!” He, of course, was talking about his song “Bob,” a Dylan-inspired song consisting entirely of palindromes.
Upon finishing his Talking Heads-inspired song Dog Eat Dog, Weird Al then told a story that sort of became the reoccurring theme of the evening. Talking about his song “One More Minute”, he talked to us about the first time that song was played on national television.
Network executives didn’t appreciate the line “I’d rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue” and told him that they needed to edit it. The result, which Weird Al watched humbly from his living room couch that night, was “I’d rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my [BLEEEEEEEEP].” Which, admittedly, sounds far dirtier than the word tongue…
The show continued until we got to the moment we all had been waiting for….. a cover song! However, in true Weird Al fashion, he didn’t give it to us the way we expected.
In a medley consisting of hits such as “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” and “Like A Surgeon,” the songs were completely stripped down, and even performed to different tunes than the original music. It was a very interesting take on some of his most famous songs, and it fit into the rest of the show extremely well without feeling forced at all.
The band wrapped up and left the stage with a huge round of applause and standing ovation. After a couple minutes, Weird Al and his bandmates stepped back out, with Al telling the crowd, “Wow! This is so unexpected! This has never happened before! You really do like us!”
The encore started with a cover of “Squeezebox” by The Who, who Weird Al chastised for putting a banjo solo in the song without an actual accordion appearing in it at all. After that, the audience was treated to a wonderful rendition of “Yoda“, his cover of The Kinks’, “Lola.”
After wrapping up the last song, Weird Al thanked us all once again for coming out and supporting this tour, which he said he was honored to be able to do. After performing for over thirty-five years playing nothing but other peoples music, you could tell how much he appreciated a having a platform to perform his own musical stylings.
The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour continues on through June, with dates still coming up all over the country.
- Nature trail to hell
- Generic Blues
- Mr. Popeil
- Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me
- Dog Eat Dog
- Close But No Cigar
- One More Minute
- Young, Dumb, & Ugly
- Don’t Download This Song
- When I Was Your Age
- Christmas at Ground Zero
- Jackson Park Express
- Medley: Eat It / I Lost On Jeopardy / Amish Paradise/ Smells Like Nirvana / White & Nerdy / I Love Rocky Road / Like A Surgeon
- Squeezebox (The Who cover)