It’s been a big week for “Weird Al” Yankovic in Minnesota.
First came news that the good folks of Darwin have designated an unmarked dirt road “Weird Alley” in the musical satirist’s honor after he put their town of 350 residents and its unusual tourist attraction on the map with his 1989 song “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”
It seemingly would have been hard to top that, but then Yankovic drew one of the highest attendance counts among this year’s grandstand concerts Tuesday as part of his most ambitious tour to date.
Nearly four decades after he rose out of the “Dr. Demento” radio show and hit MTV, Yankovic, 59, is performing with a full orchestra on each stop of this summer’s Strings Attached Tour.
The mass production underlines how serious Yankovic is about the music he makes, even when he’s goofing off on hit songs by others.
Tuesday’s sellout crowd of 13,170 concertgoers demonstrated how seriously in love Minnesota is with the California-raised, Hawaiian-shirted accordion player.
He unspooled the “Twine” song very early in the set. First, though, came an opening medley of his biggest hits strung together like an overture to a musical, including snippets of “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “I Love Rocky Road” and “Like a Surgeon.”
Then came his best line of the night: “I judge a state by one thing: the size of its twine balls.”
“Ball of Twine” was one of only a handful of songs in which the 41-piece orchestra — locals hired for the gig — made much of a noticeable difference.
“Jurassic Park” had extra meat to it with the strings and an accompanying Claymation-style dinosaur video. The Cat Stevens-echoing epic “Jackson Park Express” and Elvis-mocking anti-love song “One More Minute” each would have fallen flat without their dramatic orchestration, although it was impressive that Yankovic himself didn’t fall flat as he strolled way out into the crowd and climbed into people’s laps in the latter song.
The grandiose accompaniment didn’t alter one consistent trait of Yankovic’s shows: It still was funny in both kinds of ways.
There were definitely plenty of LOL moments and clever new twists on his old clever twists. Like when he rode around gangsta-style on a Segway during “White & Nerdy,” or his melodramatic pleas to buy albums and save diamond-adorned pop stars in “Don’t Download This Song” — although that punchline is pretty well outdated now that streaming has taken over from downloading (and Spotify and Apple are the ones ripping off musicians).
Some of the loudest laughs came off the many video clips that showed during costume changes, including clips from “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill” and “Friends.” It was a genuine hoot to see Yankovic’s widespread influence on pop culture breezily summed up.
And then there were many moments when Tuesday’s show was more the lubberly, off-kilter and, yep, weird kind of funny. Like when he rather clumsily imitated Kurt Cobain in “Smells Like Nirvana,” or the way he made the encore into an all-out “Star Wars” convention with “Yoda” (to the tune of the Kinks’ “Lola”) and “The Saga Begins” (to Don McLean’s “American Pie;” and yep, just as lengthy).
As Darth Vader and a group of storm troopers walked on stage to start the encore, fans reacted like it was Keith Richards launching into the “Satisfaction” riff at a Stones concert.
Those odes to the galaxy far, far away were sweet and well-played but not very funny at all — the humorous kind of funny, that is.
But with the accompanying orchestra working at light speed and the crowd singing along loudly, they at least felt as big as little Darwin’s giant twine ball.