Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton - Oct. 17, 99

STEVE TILLEY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 4:25 PM ET

EDMONTON - "Weird Al" Yankovic needs normality about as much as he needs Rogaine.

Who else but the frizzy-haired master musical parodist (and darn fine accordion player) would - or could - put on a concert that is equal parts rock show, music video, magic act and Saturday morning cartoon?

About 1,400 fans of all ages (though mostly teens and twentysomethings) and both genders (though predominantly male) apparently knew exactly what to expect from Yankovic as they filled one of the auditoriums at the Shaw Conference Centre last night to absorb the spectacle that is Weird Al.

After a warm-up comedian and an intro video that spliced together clips of everything from bad '50s sci-fi to Gilligan's Island, Yankovic kicked off nearly two hours of music and multimedia with Gump, the Forrest Gump-inspired parody of the Presidents of the United States of America's Lump. And proved that sheer silliness can be entertaining as heck, especially when you know how to laugh at yourself.

Without skipping a beat, he then segued into the Polka Power! medley from Running With Scissors, an oom-pa-parific mix of 14 (!) mini-parodies, from the Spice Girls' Wannabe to Madonna's Ray of Light to Closing Time, all with accordion accompaniment.

Maybe it's because Weird Al knows that he's playing to a generation raised on TV, but many of the songs had corresponding videos shown on a big screen behind the stage, usually taken directly from the song's own music video, either the real version of the Al-ified parody.

Along with the surprisingly dazzling light show and clever gimmicks (like a fake blizzard falling from the rafters during The Night Santa Went Crazy), some of the show's highlights were the comic video bits between song sets - scenes from Weird Al's UHF, send-ups of 1950s educational films, hilarious fake commercials and scenes from TV shows where Yankovic has been mentioned, from King of the Hill to NewsRadio.

They also gave Al and his band time for costume changes between songs, with Yankovic donning more outfits than Cher - a doctor's get-up for Like a Surgeon, a full-on Kurt Cobain look for Smells Like Nirvana, PVC Devo suits for Dare to Be Stupid, fashionable black for Amish Paradise and an incredible blubbery body suit for Fat, the parody of Michael Jackson's Bad. In fact, Yankovic played just about all his hits from his nearly two-decade career, including some old-school weirdness like I Lost on Jeopardy. You have to wonder how many people in this audience remember Greg Kihn.

Weird Al didn't spend much time yakking with the crowd, other than sharing memories of growing up "in my hometown of Edmonton." But it didn't seem to matter much to the crowd, who greeted him with the same intensity as any rock superstar.

And judging from the number of mini-vans taking concertgoers home afterwards, it was the kind of show even mom and pop could love.

Encore:

Yoda


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