Tuesday night, June 21, 2016, was Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer’s 56th show in Cincinnati, OH. I am proud to say that this show fell somewhere between my 15-20th time seeing the band. Since 1993, the Buffett concert has been a part of my summer itinerary. But I must admit, a Jimmy Buffett show is not the same for me as it was 23 years ago (Math Sucks.) Back then, I started going to the shows because the parties on the lawn of Riverbend Music Center were things of legend. So for me,it was all about the party. My actual knowledge of Jimmy and The Reefers were the 13 songs that made up the greatest hits package, “Songs You Know By Heart.” So hearing one of those songs was a nice bonus to the party.
Over the years, Jimmy’s music became more than just a one day event in my life. I began listening to his albums throughout the whole year. I found my favorite songs were becoming the deeper cuts on those records. While I still loved hearing “Fins,” “Volcano” and “Come Monday,” I would long to hear less known songs like “Death of an Unpopular Poet,” “Frank & Lola” and “Trying to Reason with a Hurricane Season.” I also began to adopt Buffett’s lyrics as a way of life. Two of my favorite philosophies to this day are, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane” and “I’m growing older but not up.”
It was for those reasons that this year’s show was a little different than those earlier ones for me. While I have no doubt that the party on the lawn is still epic, I preferred our seats in the pavilion where we took in Jimmy and the Reefers without all of the…distractions of the lawn. Another change was that my consumption levels have gone down drastically. Who wants to wait in a long “refreshment” line and miss hearing a great song. And now I sing along with almost every song, including the lines not included in the albums….bubble, bubble bubble. As I said before, Jimmy Buffett has become a way of life for me, and now it is all about the music.
This years show could stand out as my personal favorite. The Coral Reefers took the stage first and started into the first number shortly followed by the King of The Parrot Heads decked out in swim trunks, bare feet, and blue shirt that was no doubt from the Margaritaville collection. It was clear that this show would be like the 55 others before it, laid back and chilled. The band opened up with three songs for the die hard fans, before breaking into three songs that everyone knows by heart. Jimmy and the Reefers began “the hits” section of the show with “Boat Drinks” to celebrate the hockey season finally being over. From there is was “Come Monday,” in which Buffett dedicated the song that started it all to the city that started it all. It was a nice moment where Cincinnati’s favorite artist showed that he has never forgotten what our city did for his career. The rest of the show contained a great mix of parrot head favorites and his biggest hits.
About half way through the set, Jimmy and the band stripped down a few songs with an acoustic/bluegrass flavor. Before the band went into “Gypsies in the Palace,”Jimmy talked about how he wrote the song with the late Glenn Frey (The Eagles). Frey, Buffett’s neighbor at the time, called Jimmy on the road to tell him that his Porsche was stranded in the creek behind their houses. After wrapping up Gypsies, the band played tribute to Frey with a rendition of the Eagles classic, “Take it Easy.” It was a very special moment for the Cincinnati crowd. My personal moment of the night came when Jimmy and the Reefers played my favorite song, “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” No matter how many times I hear that song, Jimmy always sounds inspired when he sings it and it still gives me chills.
Jimmy always tries to change things up from year to year to keep things fresh for his long time parrot heads. This year saw the addition of “The Clairvoyant Coconut,” a cartoon coconut voiced by actor Jeff Bridges. The fruit sounded very similar to a character by the name of “The Dude.” Despite the little changes, there are some things that cannot be changed about a Buffett show. There is a vibe that starts at the stage and goes all the way back to the lawn, and extends out into the parking lot and into the night. There is a fellowship among Buffett and the Parrotheads of Cincinnati. A Jimmy Buffett show is so much more than just a concert. It’s more than tropical shirts and fin hats. It’s more than margaritas and plastic leis. It truly is a way of life. Perhaps Jimmy said it best when he sang, “I got a Caribbean soul I can barely control.” See you next year Jimmy!
Jimmy Buffett Set List – Cincinnati, OH – 6/21/2016
– The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
– Coconut Telegraph
– Boat Drinks
– Son of a Son of a Sailor
– Come Monday
– Meet Me in Memphis
– It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
– I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care
– I Don’t Know (Spicoloi’s Theme)
– God’s Own Drunk
– Delaney Talks to Statues
– Gypsies in the Palace
– Take it Easy (Eagles cover)
– Knees of My Heart
– Barometer Soup
– Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
– Cheeseburger in Paradise
– A Pirate Looks at Forty
– Southern Cross
– Everybody’s on the Phone
– One Particular Harbor
– Brown Eyed Girl
– Chanson Pour Petits Enfants