Jimmy Buffet is a bizarre cultural force. His had-to-be-damn-close to sold out show at Cricket Wireless Pavilion was quite a spectacle to be seen. While it is hard not to be aware of the phenomenon that is Buffett and his Parrothead followers, it is another thing to see it. I am not sure I have ever seen Cricket as full as it was last night. And if you did not know your were in Phoenix it would be hard to not think everyone was showing up to a beach party. I saw far to many middle aged men in coconut bikinis for my liking.
The set last night consisted mostly of newer material, newer material being a relative term when talking about an artists who has been preforming for decades. His set still managed to fit most of his Big 8 staples including the "Margaritaville," "Volcano," "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," "A Pirate Looks At Forty," and "Fins." The first part of the set included a great cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" that had more people singing than even many of Buffets own hits. As typical to a Buffet show after the intermission Buffet came out doing some slower song including a new song called "We Have A Lot To Drink About," it was about the current state of the economy, the war in Iraq and just about all the other problems we are facing. It was witty and pointed. When Buffet went into "Margaritaville" the crowed exploded singing every word.
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The tour was called "Summerzcool Tour." There was a sign on Martin's favorite instrument that read "Summerzsteel Cool." Between most songs was stage banter with lame summer school jokes about what subject the next song was about "history" or "math" or event "a geology lesson" before "Volcano." After the first few songs I found it beyond cheesy but was eaten up by the drunk crowed of people who had finished their last summer school class decades before I was born. The other thing I found noteworthy about his banner was the amount of pop culture references like jokes about Dancing With The Stars or American Idol. Some of the lines though that got the biggest response were when he talked about Phoenix. I wonder if he can even count the number of shows he has played here? I will even forgive him for misplacing the Celebrity Theater, it is not on Camelback Road as he said it was last night. I wonder how many in the audience got to see one of his shows there?
Last Night: Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at Cricket Wireless Pavilion.
Better Than: Anything On American Idol.
Personal Bias: I am not a Baby Boomer. I also was not as drunk as my peer from the Arizona Republic and therefor may not have been in the right mind set to enjoy the show as much as I should have.
Random Detail: The woman in line in front of me at the box office was complaining about where here limo drooped her off, see she was at the wrong side of the theater from where her tickets were and was mad that security would not let her limo park where she wanted it or something. I am not totally sure what the issue was but it is hard to take seriously anyone bitching about limo parking in the middle of a rescission.
Further Listening: If you are not already a fan then there is only one song you need to hear.
By The Way: Did you know there was a Margaritaville in Glendale? goes out in Glendale?
One More Thing: I think it is odd watching Buffet on stage laughing about the rescission. I am sure Buffet himself, his restaurant chains, his football stadium, beer and rum brands are doing alright. But it still seems rather in appropriate when the majority of the audience of near retirees who paid out hundreds of dollars to see him while losing their retirement savings. Then again better to spend it on Buffet than lose it to Madoff.
Buffet should be a lesson to both musicians and everyone in the music industry. How he has been able to turn a few good songs about topical paradises into a Island Escapism Empire is nothing but brilliant. To his millions of fans he represents and personifies an idea far bigger than just some fun songs. He has turned it into life style, and a idea that million of white people long for. While he will never have a hit again he will be able to out tour just about everyone on the charts today for decades to come. If the "music industry" wants to strive again it needs to create more acts like Buffet, who mean something deep to their fans (and really that something can be almost anything) and stop focusing on meaningless polished, radio tested, pop acts and american idol wannabees. American Idol will NEVER be able to create an act like Buffet, and that is whey when American Idol is nothing but a pop culture question on Trivial Pursuit Buffet will still be touring to die hard fans.