Music News & Reviews

After 40 years, ‘Weird Al’ brings fresh show with 41-piece orchestra to Sacramento

“Weird Al” Yankovic has won multiple Grammy Awards. His talents will be on stage in Sacramento on Sunday at the Memorial Auditorium.
“Weird Al” Yankovic has won multiple Grammy Awards. His talents will be on stage in Sacramento on Sunday at the Memorial Auditorium. Invision/Associated Press

A few years ago, “Weird Al” Yankovic played a couple of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time. After nearly 40 years in the music industry, Yankovic wanted to do something memorable. He was backed that night by a full symphony orchestra, and the experience stuck with him.

“I’ve been playing as part of a five-piece band ... for my entire touring career,” said Yankovic. “To have an 85-piece orchestra behind you just adds a lot of gravitas...It just made the whole show kind of majestic, which is an adjective you don’t normally associate with a ‘Weird Al’ concert.

“It was such an amazing experience. I thought it would be great to put together a whole tour like this.”

This year, Yankovic is finally taking his idea on the road. His 2019 “Strings Attached” tour features a 41-piece orchestra, made up of local musicians from each of his tour stops.

On Sunday, August 11, the tour stops at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. It’s billed as Yankovic’s “most elaborate and extravagant tour ever,” complete with costumes, stage props, and a video wall.

“It’s kind of hard to top a full symphony orchestra as part of your show,” Yankovic said.

But he’s also bringing three female backup singers he describes as “some of the greatest singers in the world.”

The addition of an orchestra is a twist that helps Yankovic keep his concerts fresh.

“We’ve been doing iterations of the same kind of show for a few decades,” he said. “I’m looking for ways to just make it different and make it exciting for the fans, so they’re not always seeing the same kind of show.”

Yankovic’s fan base has a wide demographic. From his 1980s spoofs of Michael Jackson, 1990s takes on Coolio and Nirvana, and hits with parodies of Green Day and Chamillionaire in the 2000s, Weird Al has covered a broad array of musical ground. As a result, his appeal stretches across generations.

“I get everybody from little kids to great grandparents coming to the show, and they all seem to be enjoying it ... maybe on different levels, but they all seem to be having a really great time, which is nice,” he said. “There aren’t many ... rock shows that you can go to and see such a wide swath of humanity.“

Yankovic is aware people may not associate “Weird Al” with a full symphony orchestra. “But once you hear it ... Oddly enough, it does work.”

Yankovic is performing many of his biggest hits, as well as a few deep cuts and songs he’s playing live for the first time. “I was waiting until we had an orchestra to ... showcase those songs,” he said.

“You want to do the fan favorites, and you also want to put your personal favorites in there,” he explained, adding, “Some of the fan favorites are my personal favorites as well, thankfully.”

One of those personal favorites is “Jackson Park Express,” a deep cut from his last album.

Yankovic’s tour launched in early June and extends into September. It’s a packed schedule, with concerts booked throughout North America.

“We don’t have a lot of time off,” said Yankovic. “I save up all my energy and give it everything I’ve got for the time that I’m on stage. ... It never gets old.”

And Yankovic just enjoys performing. “I get a real charge out of being on stage and being in front of a large audience every night,” he said.

“Right now, I’m doing exactly what I love doing most, which is nice. It’s sort of like, this is my summer vacation.”

If you go

Weird Al Yankovic

Where: Memorial Auditorium

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, August 11

Cost: $49.50 to $99.50

Tickets: https://bit.ly/31nkrv4 or call (916) 808-5181

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