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Concert Reviews

You can call me Al…”Weird Al” Yankovic

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Cobb Energy Center October 1, 2011

OK. I’ll admit it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I walked into the Cobb Energy Center to check out the Weird Al Yankovic show on Saturday night. I just wasn’t sure how his song parodies and brightly colored shirts would translate to the concert stage. I mean, it’s funny….but can it be entertaining for 2 hours?

Well guess what; it all translated pretty damn well. I suppose it makes sense…after all, Al and his band have been doing this for thirty years plus, and in doing so have created a truly unique niche. The night was an entertaining mix of live performance and video interludes featuring hilarious interview segments from “Al TV” (including the likes of Jessica Simpson, Eminem and Robert Plant) and dozens of television clips featuring “Weird Al” references. In fact, it slowly began to dawn on me as I watched everyone from Hank Hill to Homer Simpson to Chandler Bing reference him, that Weird Al is actually (gulp)…a pop culture icon. There, I said it. Icon.

As for the musical portions of the show, the band was amazingly tight and there were more wardrobe changes than a Broadway extravaganza. From the grunge-wear on “Smells like Nirvana” to the hats and beards on “Amish Paradise”, the outfits only served to make the songs even funnier. Al and company drew from decades of hits, running though crowd favorites like “Spam”, “Eat It”, “Canadian Idiot”and “White & Nerdy”.

I thought the show had reached its climax when Al donned the “Fat” suit to perform the classic video from MTV’s heyday….BUT; I ate my words when the encore arrived and the band took the stage in Star Wars outfits to perform a medley of the “Anakin Skywalker” song and “Yoda”….while being joined in their efforts by dancing Storm Troopers and Darth Vader. You just don’t see this every day…

Oh yeah, and in case I didn’t mention it, the house was packed with a surprisingly diverse group of energetic fans and the response to each song rivaled anything I have seen or heard at a rock or pop show recently.

All in all, I would highly recommend that if you get the chance, you should make a point of seeing “Weird Al” live. It’s unique, it’s extraordinarily entertaining, and he is one of a kind…in fact, almost legendary. Keep it coming Al…in today’s world we could all use a little more laughter…

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Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.

Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”

Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.

The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.

What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.

Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.

Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.”  The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.

Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.

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