Posted in: Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on November 9th, 2011
The king of the parodies has been consistent in the studio, in videos and on stage for nearly 3 decades. This DVD allows him to prove the latter. Though various costume changes and instrument shifts, Al and his longtime band mates delight a packed Massey Hall in Toronto.
The lion’s share of the set list is dedicated to Al’s latest release Alpocalypse. Of course, a few of his staples, such as “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Amish Paradise” and “Fat” have to be present. There is also a lot of fan service made during a medley of 11 songs, new and old, played at the halfway point of the concert. During this set of songs, when it seems appropriate, Al will assume the lead character of the song . This sometimes means he’s adopting the persona of the performer he is parodying, such as donning a blonde wig and thrashing about the stage ala Kurt Cobain, becoming the cartoonish version of an artust that has appeared in one of his music videos, such as Al’s infamous fat suit for the “Fat” parody of Michael Jackson, or something completely original, such as his unnerving but amusingly lecherous lounge singer character for “Wanna B Ur Lovr,” who prowls through the audience seeking female targets to leer at while he croons sexual innuendos at them.
Al’s band (consisting of Jim West, Steve Jay, Ruben Valtierra and Jim “Bermuda” Schwartz) is in top form and do not miss a note or single beat of these masterfully recreated parodies and original compositions of Al’s. Al, himself, is in fine voice throughout the show. In fact, I might even be developing a preference for his live voice as apposed to his studio work because he seems less tempted to create a ‘silly’ voice for his vocals and aims for a more arena appropriate ‘rock’ voice to belt out his tunes. For a someone who’s often brushed off as a silly comedian, he’s developed a nice set of vocal pipes and has undeniable skill on the accordion (just YOU try to sing and play an instrument at the same time, never mind one that has as many buttons and keys as an accordion).
The Specifal Features reveal that some gags and whole songs have been removed from the final cut of this concert film. Its all well and good that they appear on the DVD somewhere, but I would have preferred the full concert experiance. As someone who attended one of the shows on this tour, I think I speak for the fans (the ones who this DVD is targetted at) when I express my preference for reliving the concert experiance instead of an edited down version.
Widescreen 1.78:1. Al’s costumes are more elaborate than the stage show, in that there is no pyrotechnics, overly fancy lights or other arena concert staples. Nevertheless, the images are captured nicely and everything is looking quite clean.
Dolby Digital 5.1. The songs are very clear. Al doesn’t banter a ton with the crowd, but when he does, it balances well with the music volume so there is no need to adjust (which has been a problem I’ve found with some other concert film releases).
Music Videos (Perform This Way & Polka Face): The two most recent videos from the album Alpocalypse. “Perform This Way” is not the strongest single Al has ever released but it gets significantly more entertaining with the rapidly changing images, even though its quite unnerving to see Al’s head digitally added to an attractive (and sometimes nude) woman’s dancing body.
Extra live concert performances (Frank’s 2000” TV, You Don’t Love Me Anymore, You Make Me): Lesser known songs cut from the original performance. I happen to think that “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” is a magnificent song, outside of simply being funny, and so it seemed an extra shame to have it snipped from the film’s lineup.
Al’s Personal YouTube Videos: Each clip is only a few seconds long, but each delivers a laugh (to me at least).
-And The Band Played On: College Humour sketch where Al plays the leader of the band on the Titanic, this time playing extremely dark songs about dying at sea.
-You’ve Got…Luscious Hair: An AOL sketch about Al’s hair
-One on One: Al plays his own fan meeting him on the bus.
-The Five-Haiku Interview: Jimmy Fallon presents Al answering odd questions in strictly Haiku form.
It tickles me to think that Weird Al is keeping the flame alive for many fallen bands, perhaps most notably is the spirit of Nirvana being more vibrant on his stage than anything Dave Grohl gets up to. It would have been nice for this concert to be more a Greatest Hits type event, but I can certainly appreciate it reflecting the time it came out and the album he was promoting at the time. Plus, Al still does a fine job of splicing in old favourites and even some obscure or unreleased tunes amongst his new material. Fans will love having an expertly filmed concert to ad to their collection.