Entertainment — 19 July 2015
Weird Al hits the right note

For those who have had their sense of humour surgically removed minutes after being born, the concept of music parody is enough to make them squint, tilt their head and remain in a catatonic state for life. Does the thought of a man with long curly hair in a Hawaiian shirt playing the accordion in front of an adoring crowd make sense to you? How about if he gets naked, climbs into a tub of Jell-o and sings folk songs about Alpaca combing in Peru?

Weird Al Yankovic did one of those things as he owned the Claridge stage for a spellbinding hour and a half on the closing day of Ottawa Bluesfest.

Hey Ottawa! Do you want to hear some BLUES???

With that, the man of the hour and change opened with a medley of popular songs all pounded into the straightjacket of 4/4 time polka stomp. Backed by a very talented quartet, whose harmonies and instrumental chops were a huge part of the experience, Yankovic absolutely destroyed all of the pop culture icons (past and present) with razor sharp wit and costume changes. With trips offstage between songs to raid the wardrobe being an integral part of the act, short, comedic video segments were deployed to keep everyone occupied. Considering the humid conditions, Al was a trooper as he transitioned from furs and ice cream cone headgear for the lady Gaga send up (“Perform This Way”) to full yellow-suited, red-helmeted Devo (“Dare to Be Stupid”). Whatever the incarnation, his band followed suit. Everything worked like a Swiss watch and he held the crowd for the entire 90 minutes of mania.

The highlight? When everyone huddled in chairs at centre stage while performing “Eat It” and a handful of other classics (“Like a Surgeon” included) in the exact style of Eric Clapton’s unplugged version of “Layla”. Expertly rendered, funny as hell…this was one of the high watermarks of the festival in terms of delivering a full package of entertainment on every level. The energy that he expended was unbelievable. Finishing with “Yoda”, they did an extended, inspired, harmonized bit of nonsense (A cappella) mid song before returning to the chorus and leaving thousands of happy people singing along.

Now That’s What I Call Polka!-(medley)-Wrecking Ball/Pumped Up Kicks/Best Song Ever/Gangnam Style/Call Me Maybe/Scream & Shout/
Somebody That I Used to Know/Timber/Thrift Shop/Get Lucky
Perform This Way
Dare to Be Stupid
Smells Like Nirvana
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
Eat It / I Lost on Jeopardy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon
White & Nerdy
Word Crimes
Amish Paradise

Sean Coleman
Photo Credit: Mark Horton/ Bluesfest Wire Service

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