My review is a little late this week, but that’s because Tuesday night was the concert I wanted to review!
I’ve been a Weird Al fan for just about my entire life. From his early Dr. Demento days through is modern parodies. However, I’ve never had the chance to go to one of his concerts. That changed on Tuesday night when I got to attend his Strings Attached tour show at the Minnesota State Fair. The last two years the wife and I have combined our State Fair visit with a concert. We head out in the afternoon and get our wandering in, along with a bunch of “Fair food” and beer. Then we stroll over to the grandstand for a show.
This year’s Fair visit started out wild, with a small hail storm blowing through just as we were arriving. We took shelter in a building, but then when it seemed to let up, we headed back out. About 100 yards from any other building the hail started falling again. We ran for whatever overhang we could find, while trying not to spill my beer. Despite this, the rest of the afternoon was just fine.
We arrived at the show around 7:00 and ran into my friend Michael who would be performing in the show as one of the Stormtroopers during “The Saga Begins”. He’s a member of the 501st and this was probably one of the coolest things he’s ever gotten to do. I was a little jealous, however, I did come to discover that he wasn’t actually able to see any of the show while they waited backstage.
A lot of us did some waiting though. Due to some high winds the start of the show ended up getting pushed back over 30 minutes. The wind was quite chilly, and I was thankful I had thought ahead and brought long sleeves. Despite this, I still wished I had a sweatshirt by the end of the evening. I also learned where not to sit, and next time I’ll be selecting seats that aren’t behind (albeit distantly behind) a pole.
Soon enough the show began and Weird Al broke into his deep catalog songs, including the obvious crowd favorite, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”. The evening progressed with a solid mix of well known popular songs, and vintage tracks that even I barely remember hearing decades ago. There were video clips during many of the songs, as well as during the costume changes, highlighting all the places where Weird Al has made his way into popular culture.
The evening concluded with his encore of The Saga Begins and Yoda, which have been his staple show-enders for decades. However, someone must not have told the State Fair pyrotechnics guy that the encore was two songs, because the post-show fireworks ended up taking place during Yoda. In some ways that was kinda cool and appropriate to end with a bang.
Overall I had a great time at the show. His shows are more akin to theater (tightly produced and choreographed) than a typical concert where the artists just play their music. With video clips, costume changes, guest Stormtroopers, and a 41 piece orchestra, everything flowed in rapid succession from one song to the next, and at times the music seemed secondary to the visuals. It made for a very tightly packed evening that only lasted about 90 minutes (and no opening act). One of these days, I’d love to see a simple unplugged Weird Al show where he just shows off his great voice without the theatrics.
I’ve happy we picked Weird Al for our State Fair concert this year, as it was great to finally get to see him live. He’s an amazing performed with an incredible career. The fact that he was able to pull out songs from years ago and play them like new is impressive, and a tribute to his long creative career.
Next up… I think we need to plan a trip to visit the largest twine ball in Minnesota…