There was not an unentertained soul in the house when “Weird Al” Yankovic played at the Arlington Theatre on Tuesday, August 2, as the venerable performer put on a spectacular multimedia performance that was as exhilaratingly joyful and jocular as it was technically impressive, with seamless costume changes galore. Like well-trained acrobats, Yankovic and his stellar band careened through his wild catalog with video interludes and choreography, leaping with almost maniacal enthusiasm between songs such as “White and Nerdy,” “Amish Paradise,” and “Smells Like Nirvana,” plus polka frenzies such as “Now That’s What I Call Polka!”
Some songs wowed with their theatricality — like “Foil,” for which Al wore a conspirator’s aluminum-foil helmet, or “Fat,” with the requisite jiggling fat suit and an interruption from Santa Claus — others with their sheer musicianship, such as “Dare to be Stupid” or an unplugged Clapton-esque “Eat It” and “I Love Rocky Road” — bassist Steve Jay and guitarist Jim “Kimo” West deserve special note for contributing so much to the onstage antics.
But most striking was Yankovic’s singular stamina and commitment as a performer — scientists could study him for hints on inexhaustible renewable energy. Lest it seem Yankovic is only an extremely skilled imitator, a showstopping a cappella “Yoda Chant” in the night’s final song proved he’s an artist in his own right, one who will be remembered, just like the James Brown he parodies, as one of the great performers of his time.