Jimmy Buffett gives Boston something to cheer about

A review of Jimmy Buffett at the Comcast Center on June 17, 2010

, Editor-in-Chief

On a night that most Bostonians would rather forget, Jimmy Buffett hit the Comcast Center in Mansfield on Thursday night and rallied the crowd into a frenzy with his signature brand of easy-going summertime tunes.

Dubbed the “Under The Big Top” tour, the tour name was very fitting for Buffett and his loyal Parothead following. From the lawn to under the shed, a carnival-like atmosphere filled the amphitheater with attendees balancing beach balls and booze. Following a short set from opener Ilo Ferreria, Buffett’s stage crew launched t-shirts into the crowd as the Coral Reefer Band members took to the positions on stage. Buffett himself casually walked on stage, kicked off his flip-flops, and launched into “Nobody From Nowhere.” “License To Chill” soon followed with a song that delivered the protocol for the night.

These days, you know what you are getting with Buffett. As the beach-bum singer-songwriter said, “We’ve been doing this up here for a long, long time.” In fact, Buffett estimated that Thursday’s show was #52 in the area. He started back at Club Passim in Harvard Square but has since made what he still calls Great Woods his primary home, allowing for a tailgate experience that is seemingly of equal importance to the show itself. The crowd, like the singer, has aged a bit but the good times continue to flow and the sing-alongs are just as joyful.

The first half of the show was comprised of the reggae fueled “Jamaica Mistaica”, the comical “Frank And Lola,” and staples “Volcano” and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude”. Buffett covered “Where The Boat Leaves From” from his recent CMT Crossroads partner Zac Brown, before moving on to another sing-along in “One Particular Habour”.

The Coral Reefer Band, which swelled up to nearly a dozen members at times, was in fine form. Mac McAnally, this year’s CMA winner for Best Musician, stood center stage with Buffett on guitar and backing vocals. He shared lead vocals on “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and later in the night delivered one of his own best in “Back Where I Come From”. 

Of course, the crowd had another big thing on their mind too: Celtics vs. Lakers in the NBA Finals Game 7. So it came as no surprise that a thunderous “Beat LA” erupted shortly before the game’s tip-off at 9 p.m. Buffett, who attended Game 5 in Boston on Sunday, welcomed the chants. “I bet ya that’s not the first or last time we’ll hear that tonight,” he declared. “By the third margarita, you’ll be screaming ‘beat the fuck out of LA.” After closing the opening set with “Big Top,” Buffett left for a short intermission break and turned the entrainment over to the Celtics game as the screens showed the end of the first quarter.

He returned to start the second half with “Tampica Trauma” and debuted some new sins during “Bank Of Bas Habits”. Buffett changed things up a bit by picking up a ukulele and turning over lead vocals to back-up singer Nadirah Shakoor for “Creola ”, which despite a strong delivery fell flat on the crowd (fellow back-up singer Tina Gulikson would get her chance later on with “Trip Around The Sun”). “Cheeseburger In Paradise” picked the crowd back up (though roast beef might have been on the mind thanks to a backdrop of Kelly’s Roast Beef) and the sing-alongs continued with “Come Monday” and “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor”.

A thrilling rendition of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross” lead the way into Buffett’s signature hit “Margaritaville”, which closed out the main set. He would return for an encore of that began with “Fruitcakes” and continued with another Parrothead staple “Fins.”  After another update on the Celtics game, Buffett and company lead one last sing-along with Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”

Overall, the show was just what we have come to expect from Buffett. No flashy musicianship, just straight up good times with a wild crowd and some fun songs. That’s not a bad thing, the 63-year old singer has made quite the career out of the formula and the crowds come back for the same good times every summer. 

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