I knew it had to happen. Fifty seven concerts into my Buffett concert career and I finally went to the perfect Buffett concert! It was truly a pleasure and a hell of an evening!
I knew it was going to be a good evening when I walked in to get my tickets. I opened the envelope and saw "Row A, CTR Sec" YES! I would be front row center! -- along with Craig (my fellow Buffett fanatical friend). The only thing between us and Jimmy was Jimmy's microphone! We walked in to check out our seats and were simply amazed. The place was unbelievably small -- no bigger than a small lecture auditorium -- a semicircle of only about 10 rows of sea blue stadium type seats, with the two on the bottom center belonging to us.
I will have to admit -- I just couldn't take the whole experience in. It was almost surreal. I was experiencing sensory overload -- a bit more than my Carribean soul could handle at one time. My poor heart was racing. As Jimmy walked out and relaxed and just started telling all his anecdotes, funny comments, and just general bullshitting with us for 2 hours I couldn't believe it. To top it all off, Jimmy was solo. No band. No nothing. Just Jimmy and his guitar. And to top all that off, he was singing a true parrot head's dream concert setlist. And to top that off I was sitting right in front of him! Talking about thanking my lucky stars! Everything and every aspect of that evening came together absolutely perfectly. This concert was reminding me of all the stories I've heard from the people who saw Jimmy in the old days in bars, etc. This was it! This was close to what they experienced all the time! As Jimmy starting singing the songs, Me and Craig just kept looking at each other in awe. Nothing would matter after this. This was the concert to end all concerts. I sat and listened and stared in total amazement for over 2 hours. This was the concert I never thought I'd see. It exceeded my very high expectations in every way.
One thing became clear early on in the concert. That is that Jimmy is a better musician and singer than he gives himself credit for. I've heard him many times say he was a great songwriter/performer, but a mediocre guitar player/singer. Not true. Jimmy was able to hold his own and then some. Jimmy was truly in his element that evening. I'm sure those of you that listened on Radio Margaritaville felt lucky -- and you were -- but having listened to the show since actually being there, I can tell you that there's no way you could have picked up on some of the delicate changes Jimmy made in his voice on some of the songs, especially in the first song -- The Weather is Here. I wasn't the only one that noticed. People were looking at one another when he would do it.
And as if his voice didn't impress me enough, Jimmy was very enthusiastic in his guitar playing. There were a couple of times I was worried he might fall off the bar stool because he was really getting into the music. Thank goodness he didn't. Once, after a little slip of the fingers, he joked "What the hell were you expecting, Eric Clapton?"
All in all, I would have to say that Jimmy's "senior moments" (as he referred to them several times) were few and far between. Those that were there simply added character and uniqueness to the show. Some of those moments that I don't even think he realized include referring to the song "Lone Palm" as "No Bird Flies By My Window" and further stating the he'd never played it live in concert. I heard him play it several times during Fruitcakes. Then he said he hadn't played "God's Own Drunk" for 10 years. He shocked us last year and played it as the encore at Nissan Pavilion. And I've heard him play it other times too. He did explain about the "lost verse" comment on Tuesdays, Thursday, & Saturdays. He has since realized it was a mistake since that's the same verse he recorded on You Had To Be There.
He also made a reference to his comments on the Matt Lauer interview in which he was surprised by how "the internet lit up" after he said he had to play certain songs. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that he didn't have to play certain songs, and said "You'll should have told me that 20 years ago!" Personally, I wouldn't consider myself a GOP (Grumpy Old Parrothead -- for those of you not familiar with the term). By that I mean that I don't really want a big amphitheatre show with nothing but ballads. But on the other hand, I think Jimmy can strike a better balance than he does now. I really don't need to here Cheeseburger at every concert. As Jimmy says himself, "A Jimmy Buffett concert is basically a party with Jimmy Buffett music as the background" I have met a lot of great people and friends at that party we call a Jimmy Buffett concert, so I won't dare try to tinker with whatever secret formula it is Jimmy uses. If he wants to rework his setlist to include more of the more obscure stuff, that would be wonderful. But if he doesn't, will I stop going? Not a snowball's chance in hell! Okay, time to get off my soapbox.
Speaking of GOP's, Jimmy bantered on about the CoBO for several minutes. He loves to be able to go there and get things like lyrics and chords, although he did call them "hate mongers" for thinking he "hasn't done anything worth a shit since 1976". "I happen to disagree," he said. But yet he says "they still like me though". The saga continues...
Early in the show, someone requested God's Own Drunk and Jimmy said "Oh, I knew that would come up". And then he said he'd play it for us when he got up the nerve. He asked his assistant, Mike, to go back to his dressing room and get him a shot of rum, which he promptly began sipping on. A few minutes later, he did in fact play God's Own Drunk, and of course, had a few customized lyrics for us. When Jimmy said "I ain't no drinkin' man", someone in the audience coughed a perfectly timed "bullshit", which Jimmy and the audience found amusing. Later in the show, he gave the remainder of the rum to one of the lucky people in the front row (no, not me).
Jimmy also had a funny story about how he knows when somebody's coming to a concert for the first time. They're usually the "straight" person with normal clothes on sitting next to their friend who's dressed like a lunatic and been to the madness before -- their "tour guide" I believe Jimmy says. He says he tries to play to those people. Guess he's trying to win over new customers, huh?
Jimmy also has a brand new guitar. Now I don't know shit about guitars, so you'll have to forgive me here. Take a look at the pictures. All I know is that it is really cool looking! He used it for Grape Fruit Juicy Fruit, and seemed like a kid at Christmas with his new toy. He is very proud of that guitar!
Oh yeah, he promised to play Jones Beach next year! Said he's never taken so much grief for skipping a venue before.
Jimmy kept telling us he'd see us at the party after the show, but he was nowhere to be found. I really don't blame him. He would have probably been able to do nothing but autograph stuff and take pictures. He did shake hands with those of us in the first row after the show.
Well, I think I've about exhausted my memories of the show for now. Bottom line is that it was truly the perfect Buffett concert. And I believe Jimmy had as much fun as we did. Till next time...