Jimmy Buffett. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Thursday, October

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

Parrotheads are a serious bunch: they’re in their seats at 7
p.m., feathers erect with anticipation. Chatting is kept to a
minimum, but cheering, singing along, and exuberantly making shark
fins with hands are all fair game, as is sipping beer between the
choruses in “Margaritaville.” And Buffett is continually
appreciative: “I’m just glad you still like me,” he marveled before
dipping into “Juicy Fruit.”

This may figure in Buffett’s success; he doesn’t seem to take
his audience for granted. “You’re a crazy group, Parrotheads, and
I’m thankful for it,” he said, acting as though it were his own
private party, and he wanted all of his guests to have a good time.
He encouraged this with his clever banter, by not taking himself
too seriously, and by poking fun at his recent lyrical blunder on
the Today Show and vitamin bust in France.

His barefoot exuberance on a set festooned with surfboards and
an ocean backdrop evoked the joy of an endless summer, even after
nearly 40 years of touring. In each song, his band was on fire with
Caribbean rhythms set by the steel drums and slide and pedal steel
guitars. While he delivered all the sing-along faves — including
“Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” and
“Come Monday” — he dipped into tracks from his recent album, Take
the Weather with You, as well, announcing that his performance of
“Elvis Presley Blues” was the song’s concert debut.

The evening’s highlights featured local talents David Crosby and
Jack Johnson on stage to sing “Son of a Son of a Sailor” to a
raucous crowd. Crosby later joined Buffett again to sing backup on
“Southern Cross.” And during the final encore, Buffett and Johnson
traded verses for “A Pirate Looks at 40,” during which Johnson
changed a line to sing “I’m an under-40 victim of fate.” As we
filed out of our seats at the end of the night I overheard a
Parrothead fittingly say: “That wasn’t a concert; it was a party.
Thanks, Jimmy Buffett, for coming to my party.”


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