Not even torrential rain and wicked lightning put a damper on "Weird Al" Yankovic's delightful (and reliably hilarious) two-hour, career-spanning set last night at the Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, which was packed with faithful fans of the beloved parodist. The 56-year-old musician and his long-time bandmates delivered plenty of songs from his most recent album, Mandatory Fun, from the Lorde-parodying "Foil" to the Pixies-esque headbanging rager "First World Problems" and the Pharrell Williams-emulating show-starter "Tacky"; for the latter, Yankovic danced and bopped from the backstage area to the stage through the audience while wearing a brightly colored, psychedelic-patterned suit.
This sartorial choice only lasted a few songs, as his set also featured costume change after costume change: a purple octopus drape and pink furry leg warmers during the Lady Gaga homage "Perform This Way"; a grungy Kurt Cobain wig and sweater during "Smells Like Nirvana"; yellow Devo suits for the synthpop highlight "Dare To Be Stupid"; and a slick black-and-white striped suit for another standout, the grammar-schoolin' gem "Word Crimes." In between these changes were extensive interstitial clips of skits and pop culture references from Yankovic's entire career—the clip of UHF's Gandhi II, his Naked Gun appearance and his Simpsons parody song "Homer and Marge" were especially choice—which were entertaining enough to make the lulls in music negligible.
To the delight of the audience, Yankovic strapped on an accordion for the early polka classic "Another One Rides the Bus" and for the Mandatory Fun polka medley "Now That's What I Call Polka." Performances of "White & Nerdy" and "Amish Paradise" as well drew monstrously positive reactions; the latter in particular caused a huge cheer when it began. And, of course, the Star Wars-reference-filled encore was a hit; after all, bringing out actual Stormtroopers and Darth Vader to preface "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda" is a guaranteed crowd-pleasing move.
But musically, he wasn't afraid to mix things up, such as when he performed older songs "Eat It," "Like A Surgeon," "I Lost On Jeopardy" and "I Love Rocky Road" in an unplugged, in-the-round format. (More specifically, the candles, dim lighting and opening acoustic guitar salvo referencing "Layla" were a dead ringer for Eric Clapton's MTV Unplugged special.) Besides showcasing the immense, chameleonic skills of his bandmates, the medley illuminated that Yankovic's skills as a musician and singer have never been reliant on shtick. Despite a reliance on current pop culture tropes, his music felt fresh and engaging; only the Michael Jackson parody "Fat" and its accompanying bloated suit felt somewhat out of place. Otherwise, Yankovic's concert established once again that his career longevity is the result of thoughtful songwriting and good old-fashioned hard work.