Jimmy Buffett at Xcel Energy Center, 12/3/13
Photo by Tony Nelson
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Jimmy Buffett began his career as a memorable and talented country singer in the 1960s before he was catapulted into the status of the most-respected and revered master of beach-themed rest and relaxation. To this date, he has 29 studio albums listed in his discography along with 14 live albums and 69 singles. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most revered and respected figures in whatever the fuck you want to call what he does, having collaborated with contemporary country artists such as Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, and Martina McBride.
Back for the first time since 2004, the object of many Parrotheads' affection took the stage to a roar of applause, opening the show with a medley of "Songs From St. Somewhere." His yellow swim trunks and blue shirt swayed back-and-forth to the island rhythm before moving into a percussion heavy cover of Van Morrisson's "Brown Eyed Girl." Buffett wore cuffs of yellow, green, and red, perhaps representing his love of reggae.
Barefoot and wearing a thick white guitar strap, Buffett looked sun-kissed and healthy on gigantic televisions on each side of the stage, which provided a more intimate view. The on-screen interaction between the ruler of the Parrothead nation and his band appeared like the Late Show with David Letterman if it were hosted by Paul Schaffer. Or a more pleasant Terry Bradshaw - or another bald guy. We all tend to look the same.
Photos by Tony Nelson
After a bit of stage banter about hockey, his fans nodding affirmatively to his every word, the 13-piece band kicked into a flawless rendition of "Boat Drinks" in front of a giant picture of a harbor, then cruised into his 1974 anthem, "Pencil Thin Mustache." Plastic grass skirts ruffled in approval as the backdrop screen shifted to a French Quarter style building. One man was so into the performance, he ran his groin into the railing dividing the stairs. Or maybe he was just distracted by the giant beached boxcar prop on the stage.
Fans continued to bob their Parrotheads through "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" and "Havana Daydreamin'" A couple wearing Hawaiian shirts and multicolored leis embraced as they beamed with joy. "We'll be handing out excuse notes after the show," Buffett joked to the crowd. "A lot of people don't show up to work after seeing us, right Professor Utley," nodding to his longtime keyboard player before working into jokes about Alan Jackson, his collaborator in the recording of their next song, "It's Five O' Clock Somewhere." Despite Jackson's absence from the stage, the song was well-received.
Near the middle of the set, Buffett and the cheerful Coral Reefer Band also played his most recent duet hit - the bluesy tune, "Too Drunk to Karaoke." As Toby Keith was not present for the performance, the bearded Mac McAnally competently handled his vocal parts as the cowbell clanged on and on.
"We're in the land of sausages, walleye pikes and all that stuff...but they were grillin' cheeseburgers out there," said the grinning 66-year-old as he provided a perfect segue into one of his most famous songs, "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Two women with their arms in the air, screaming lyrics and dressed as ketchup bottles appeared on the gigantic TVs while some sort of Donkey-Kong looking graphic as broadcast from behind the band.
Photos by Tony Nelson
During the 130-minute long performance, Buffett continued to treat fans to a plethora of beloved favorites such as "Cultural Infidel," "A Pirate Looks at Forty," and "Fins," While he played no shortage of his hits, he also pulled off a few covers throughout his set, including Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross," Zac Brown Band's "Knee Deep," and Lionel Richie's "All Night Long". He ended his first encore with "Margaritaville."
But the likely highlight for a lot of concert-goers last night was Buffett's second encore, covering Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Girl from the North Country." Walking through the lobby as the smell of funnel cake lingered in the air, fans young and old could be heard gushing over the quality of Buffett's renditions of one of Minnesota's most cherished artists.
"I didn't think anyone could do "Like a Rolling Stone" better than Dylan himself. But he did it," remarked an amazed man wearing a turtleneck under a tropical shirt.
Despite the fact that the band was fairly stationary on stage, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's presentation was enjoyable and competent -- probably the same words that would describe his Margaritaville frozen entrees. Besides, it's true that the world needs some sort of escape. The man is too talented and serves an important purpose by allowing people to forget about the pain and terribleness of being alive. Certainly he deserves credit for that. Whatever. I'm drunk and wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
Personal Bias: I had never listened to Jimmy Buffett. His first six records are decent country albums but eventually it gets bad. That being said, Jimmy Buffett comes across as an authentic and charismatic performer and the talents of the Coral Reefer Band are impossible to ignore.
The Crowd: Thousands of completely insane people from the suburbs, some greying, some not. Out in the concessions area, a man wearing a coconut bra was lecturing his 13-year-old son about not wandering off. A guy in an embroidered button-up shirt and a flashing tiki necklace, shadowboxed his friend while yelling, "I'm so fuckin' pissed at him, bro." Ten men who looked exactly like James Belushi walked by.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh man, you got that right" - response to any single thing Jimmy Buffett says.
St. Somewhere Medley
Brown Eyed Girl
Pencil Thin Mustache
Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
It's Five O'clock Somewhere
Son of a Son of a Sailor
Too Drunk to Karaoke
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Piece of Work
Weather With You
A Pirate Looks At Forty
One Particular Harbor
Back Where I Come From
All Night Long
Like A Rolling Stone
Girl from the North Country
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