Barefooted and beaming from ear to ear, the ageless Jimmy Buffett performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl on the evening of Thursday, October 15, with his famed Coral Reefer Band. While other artists might be content seeing their fans having the time of their lives, Buffett’s wild enthusiasm made it appear that he may have enjoyed the concert more than any audience member.
The 68-year-old entertainer is no stranger to Santa Barbara, and his show provided plenty of tributes to the city. With the stage decked out appropriately in cabana style, the screen behind the musicians cycled through still images and videos throughout the night — photos of the Santa Barbara Mission, the harbor, and Highway 101 popped up during select songs and proved that Buffett was happy to be back. “In the late ’80s, this was one of the biggest venues [to play],” said Buffett, “and we’ve remained faithful to the Santa Barbara Bowl.”
Buffett has long been known as a touring workhorse — he has embarked on a tour every year since 1976 — and his live show was nothing short of a marathon as he blitzed through 25 different songs over the course of two hours. Only twice did he allow the energy of the Bowl to dim briefly: during Robert Greenidge’s “Steel Drum Medley” mid-show and at the end of the encore with the solo acoustic “Tin Cup Chalice.”
The show wouldn’t have been complete without the inclusion of the band’s most well-known hits. Guitarist Mac McAnally played the role of Alan Jackson on “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” early in the night, and “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” both found their way into the set later on. Buffett also paid tribute to his musical contemporaries with covers of James Taylor’s “Mexico,” Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross,” and Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
Though one might expect these songs to lose their luster after being played out over the course of a 46-year career, Buffett’s spirit and gusto kept young and old Parrotheads alike singing and dancing along all night, and he expressed his appreciation: “Thank you to all the people who raised your children on this music; it’s helped us a lot.”