Jimmy Buffett turns the Susq into a Parrothead Paradise

Posted: August 22, 2014

In Jimmy Buffett's Parrothead paradise, it's always 5 o'clock (somewhere), an eternal happy hour with cool breezes, cold drinks (preferably his Land Shark Lager, brewed for his Margaritaville restaurants?), and warm feelings among himself, his paramours, and his beach-bound drinking companions.

An extended Parrothead family, dressed in hula skirts and Hawaiian shirts, and toting kiddie pools and barbecue grills, sold out Camden's Susquehanna Center on Tuesday night to hear their hero. They got the sunshiny experience they paid for, but if they really listened, they got much more.

Starting with a rowdy, steel-drum-heavy version of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," Buffett - in purple Margaritaville T-shirt and lime-green shorts, and looking like a tanned Larry David without spectacles - and his countrified, island-inspired ensemble kept things lively and familiar. The goofy, slide-guitar-laced "Fruitcakes," with its chugging rhythms and rolling congas, was charming, as was "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," the cool, jazzy "Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit," and the honky-tonk number "My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don't Love Jesus."

"Son of a Son of a Sailor" ("The sea's in my veins, my tradition remains/I'm just glad I don't live in a trailer") had an introspective cast. "Bama Breeze" was sweetly shore-bound and touched with an elegant piano line. But when Buffett sung-spoke the line "Pass another year down there," he sounded sadly distant, as if life had been wasted being wasted. The narrative of "He Went to Paris" found Buffett's bruised protagonist searching for answers to life's questions.

Buffett is a fine storyteller, a lyricist who can bob and weave through the darkness to find sunshine and adequate stores of rum. His sound uses aggressively fuzz-toned pedal steel guitars as would a hillbilly Little Feat. "Paris" and a full-throated take on Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross" showed off his band's dreamy harmony vocals and warm country vibes.

Before an acoustic "Come Monday," Buffett reminisced about good times spent in the Philly area with gigs at the long-closed Main Point, and thanked the crowd for the best "summer job" ever.

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