Synopsis: “Weird Al” Yankovic Live! – The Apocalypse Tour is the concert event to end all concert events. . . and the perfect way to kill some time while waiting for the end of the world. It features all of the multi-Grammy Award-winning artist’s greatest hits, including “Perform This Way”, “White & Nerdy”, “Amish Paradise” and “Fat”. So lock the airtight door on your fallout shelter, sit back, relax and enjoy the Apocalypse with Weird Al.
eyelights: White and Nerdy. Amish Paradise. Fat. Yoda.
eyesores: CNR. Craigslist. the ham-fisted editing.
In 2011, to support his most recent album, ‘Alpocalypse‘, “Weird Al” Yankovic hit the road and brought his zany mix of music and humour to his North American fans. On July 16, he performed two shows in front of a packed Massey Hall, in Toronto, Ontario.
These shows were recorded and broadcast in a 42-minute truncated version on Comedy Central on October 1 and then released in an 86-minute extended version on DVD and BD three days later. I got the blu-ray, which sports a vibrant DTS Master Audio 2.0 track.
Backed by his long-time backing band, Yankovic served up a vast array of his latest, his greatest and even a few rarely heard tracks to a gleeful crowd that sometimes clapped along, frequently cheered… but otherwise sat there politely, as Canadians would be expected to.
“Weird Al” was in great form that day, offering a surprisingly articulate vocal and good stage presence. His interaction with the crowd, however, was limited to “Hello, Toronto!”, “Thank you, Toronto! I love you all! Goodnight!” and singing to some of the female audience members during “Wanna B Ur Lovr”.
Personally, I’m always impressed to see that “Weird Al” remains potent some 30 years into his career. He continues to break his personal records on the Billboard charts, to be nominated for important awards, and attract large audience across the continent. Who would have thunk it back in the early ’80s, huh?
His band were as solid as ever, playing along with each gag and dressing up for the part as the songs required them to. The only flub was the guitar work on “Money For Nothing/Beverley Hillbillies”, which was shaky (but, in all fairness, Mark Knopfler had personally recorded it for Al’s album to ensure accuracy)
The stage design was simple: one wide medium-sized screen behind the band, on which various images and videos were projected, sometimes full screen, sometimes in pairs, sometimes as a triptych. Some of the projections were taken directly from “Weird Al”‘s own videos.
These videos and images sometimes showed up on screen during the performance (evidently someone decided that they were too important to miss, or that the performance required some sprucing up). Thankfully, aside for the full intro to the hilarious “Fat”, these intrusions were brief.
The editing job on this concert video leaves much to be desired. Not only was it cobbled together from two different shows, but it was then chopped down for the television broadcast, extended for the home video, and still left6 footage on the “editing floor” (thankfully, it is available in the Extras).
Unaware of the technical aspects of this production, I got the impression that something was up right from the start when, after a short opening credit, “Weird Al” launched right into “Polka Face” with no warm-up, no introduction, not even a pause; the editor didn’t even let him walk onto the stage.
The transitions between songs were very abrupt, and by “Smells Like Nirvana” (the third track) I knew that the show was expurgated; there was absolutely no way that he had had the time to change his wardrobe in the split seconds that took place between the various takes.
These constant wardrobe changes were very distracting because we didn’t see what the audience was seeing at the time; “Weird Al” would just mysteriously look different between each song. This made the show look more like a highlights reel than an actual concert.
In fact, it made the show so inconsistent that I started to wonder if the songs hadn’t been shifted around by the editor – there was no way to ascertain that the continuity was even remotely intact. When I found out that there were extra tracks, I was sure of this. And yet, this is not the case.
That’s how poor the editing is.
The transitions weren’t always good on stage either, actually. While “Weird Al” and his band are seasoned veterans and it shows, there were moments (notably during his massive medley number), where the songs really didn’t mesh together at all. It’s a hard task, for sure, but Al’s done it before. Not so here.
The show felt somewhat serviceable, unexceptional to me. There was no doubt that “Weird Al” was professional throughout and giving a good show, but one got the sense that his heart wasn’t entirely in it. If anything, the show felt like a theme park attraction more than a pop/rock show.
There were a large number of brilliant moments, of course, such as “Weird Al” singing while riding about the stage on a Segway during “Amish Paradise”, the phenomenally offbeat acapella solo that the group did during “Yoda”, the ironic intro to “Let Me Be Your Hog” and the many classics.
But there were also too many downbeats, such as the generic “CNR”, the mundane The Doors-esque “Craigslist” and lame “Party in the CIA”. Even his hilariously embarrassing interactions with the female audience in “Wanna B Ur Lovr” couldn’t make up for the music and melody of the song.
Bizarrely enough, I preferred the outtakes, “Frank’s 200o” TV”, “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”, and “You Make Me”, which built up on one another and didn’t seem edited; they seemed continuous, like real concert footage. Despite my disappointment with the feature, it was worth the time to check out.
Rounding up the blu-ray were videos for “Perform This Way” and “Polka Face”, a handful of “Weird Al”‘s brief but amusing Youtube videos, a hilarious spoof of the band sequence in ‘Titanic’, a terrific satire of shopping channels adverts focusing on Al’s hair and a quick Jimmy Fallon Q&A in haiku form.
All in all, it’s a decent package for fans of the man (heck, it even has a subtitle option to sing along to the lyrics!), even though the show’s presentation leaves a lot to be desired. One wishes that the main feature would be spunkier and that we would be treated to an actual show, not just a collage of songs.
Whoever made this decision may have thought that it would whet fans’ appetites, but I suspect that it might instead be leaving a bad taste in their mouths – especially for the ones who were actually in the audience on that tour and who wanted a memento of the great time they had. That’s not what this is.
But it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the Alpocalypse Tour video. There are -will be- others.
Date of viewing: January 9, 2014