Accordion solo! Photo: Lane Brown
Now that everything Chris Anderson predicted in his book The Long Tail has more or less come true — the decline of traditional media, the rise of niches, the fractionalization of our collective attention span, zombie attacks, etc. — it’s a wonder ”Weird Al” Yankovic can still find music popular enough to lampoon. Even more amazing, though, is that in today’s culturally compartmentalized times, Yankovic was able to fill the Beacon Theatre’s 3,000 seats last night with one of the most oddly diverse crowds we’ve seen at a New York show pretty much ever. Sure they were all white. And all male (save for 50 or so brave girlfriends). And all really, really geeky. But they did range in age from around 10 to upwards of 70, which was, well, weird.
Yankovic hit the stage promptly at eight to much fist-pumping and non-ironic high-fiving. He kicked things off with his newest polka medley (“Polkarama!”), rearranging recent hits by Black Eyed Peas, Modest Mouse, and Gorillaz before an audience that may have been — in part at least — too old, too young, or too obsessed with World of Warcraft to be familiar with the source material. It didn’t seem to matter, though, because even at 47 (!) Yankovic is an impressively capable performer, pulling off acrobatic dance moves and more than a dozen costume changes during the length of his set. Sadly there was no banter, but we were treated to hilarious Al-TV clips projected onto giant video screens.
The evening’s undeniable highlight was the half-hour mash-up of Al’s best-loved song parodies — yep, he played “Eat It.” “Amish Paradise” too — culminating in “The Saga Continues,” his Star Wars–themed version of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” for which he was flanked by Darth Vader and eight dancing Stormtroopers. Even some girls enjoyed it!