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Concert Reviews:
Jimmy Buffett hosts a Parrothead party by the Detroit River

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2015

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DETROIT -- "Get me close to a body of water and something happens!" Jimmy Buffett declared at West Riverfront Park during the early part of his show there Thursday night, June 25.

And he wasn't kidding.

With his songs about boat drinks, pirates looking at 40, sons of sailors, islands and particular harbors, Buffett more suited than most -- make that most any -- performer for the waterfront, in this case the Detroit River. After countless shows at Pine Knob and three consecutive years at Comerica Park, he was clearly pleased with Thursday's setting, referencing them throughout the show and shouting out to those watching from their boats and to Canada across the way.

It certainly gave a little extra meaning to a line like, "I hope you're enjoying the scenery" from his 70s favorite "Come Monday."

This year's assemblage of Parrotheads certainly did. Their numbers may not have come close to equalling the Comerica turnouts -- put that on a new and unfamiliar venue and a Thursday night rather than recent years' Saturdays -- but those who came exuberantly sported their grass skirts, coconut bras and shark hats. And that was just the men.

Grateful and gracious, the 68-year-old Buffett and his 11-piece Coral Reefer Band (12 when slide guitar specialist Sonny Landreth joined for several songs) rewarded their loyalty with a characteristically spirited two-hour, 26-song set that trolled through his 45 years of recording, recreating that well-branded Margaritaville ambience. The hits were in ample supply -- "Fins," "One Particular Harbor," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "A Pirate Looks at Forty," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" and, of course, "Margaritaville" -- but the show was also defined by the deeper selections from his catalog of co-mingled rock, folk, country and blues.

You don't, after all, get to hear "Off to See the Lizard," "Blue Guitar," "Take Another Road" or "The Great Filling Station Holdup," which morphed briefly into the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider," at every Buffett show. The honky tonk-flavored "Workin' and Playin'," which he composed especially for this year's tour, was a welcome addition to the set. And Buffett offered some heartfelt tributes during the encore -- to B.B. King with "Last Man Standing," even changing the song's lyrics in homage, and to the Grateful Dead, in honor of its upcoming 50th anniversary shows, with a cover of "Scarlet Begonias."

Throughout the night, with beach balls and even an inflatable shark flying around the crowd, Buffett took every opportunity he could to express his affection for Detroit -- recalling, as he always does, his first shows in the area at the old Raven Gallery in Southfield. "It's been a great run...great highs and lows," he said before ending the show with a solo acoustic version of "Tin Cup Chalice." "But it's gonna go on." And the Parrotheads would not have it any other way.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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