Jimmy Buffett started his tour called “Son of a Son of a Sailor: High Tide” on April 23rd in Orange Beach, Alabama and I was lucky enough to snag tickets and attend. Extensive car travel prohibited us from enjoying a full afternoon of parking lot festivities, but we caught a couple of Trop Rock musicians and then experienced one of the best Buffett shows I’ve seen.
The tropical event was held at The Wharf in Orange Beach, which is a popular entertainment and vacation destination. Buffett kicked off the warm weather concert series there and fans were out in force all afternoon in the parking lots. There are various bars and restaurants in the complex, so fans could have appetites and thirsts quenched easily.
Of course, it made sense to have Trop Rock musicians entertain before the big show, so fans were treated to Rick Lamb and Colleen Keener and to Jimmy Maravantano, of Jimmy and the Parrots. Some might argue that the pre-show entertainment was as great as the ticketed show and our Trop Rock artists did indeed put on bang-up shows.
Once we were in The Wharf Amphitheater, the excitement began to grow. The venue only holds about 10,000 people, so while it wasn’t exactly an intimate atmosphere, there were no bad seats. Typical of a Buffett concert, the crowd was able to see the stage goings-on close up, thanks to a couple of Jumbotron screens.
Every time I see Buffett perform live, the stage and background visuals seem improve. There was a definite nautical theme to the stage, and it was awash in rich color. The division of the show into sections seemed apparent and the best part, in my opinion, included all the songs about Alabama.
Jimmy grew up first it the Pascagoula, Mississippi area (you knew that, of course!) and then moved to Mobile, Alabama. He sang “Dreamsicle,” which is rarely heard in concert and expressed his gratitude for “being home” more than once. I daresay that he almost had tears in his eyes at one time.
Jimmy also included a section of his songs about New Orleans and a flashy neon-esque sign in the backdrop flashed out “Jazz Police.” Also included was a time when he and 4-5 other Coral Reefers took stools and sang a few more acoustic sounding tunes.
As for the Coral Reefers, it was wonderful to see Doyle Grisham back in great form. Peter Mayer wowed the crowd with his guitar work and brother Jim Mayer switched from electric bass to upright bass a few times. Upright bass is perfect for “Frankie and Lola!” Robert Greenidge had a wonderful steel pan solo on “African Friend.” Nadirah Shakoor and Tina Gullickson performed stellar backup vocals, as usual, and their wardrobe was noteworthy.
This was a wonderful kickoff concert and different in the fact that there were so many songs performed that rarely are and I also heard two songs I didn’t know. Jimmy is a young 72 years old and is still in super shape, physically and musically. He is a master at providing an outstanding time for his audience of colorful fans and we are thankful he’s still delivering a live slice of escapism!