CUYAHOGA FALLS – Despite all of the ‘shifts in latitudes, changes in attitudes’ due to COVID-19 and an abbreviated summer concert tour season, Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band managed to perform just under the wire a Cold Saturday night at a packed Blossom Music Center.
Local Parrotheads couldn’t fail to flock once again to see their 74-year-old barefoot leader, whose last appearance in Northeast Ohio was in 2018.
In fact, some people have taken a road trip to see Buffett’s current “Life On the Flip Side Tour,” which features the 11-piece Coral Reefer Band.
After attending a Buffett show in July in Nashville, Broadview Heights resident Jim Speno took advantage of another family outing to see his favorite singer.
“We used to think he could go up there, but I think the free time has been good for him,” said Speno, who has seen Buffett live about 15 times. “He looked fantastic.”
Outfits galore were present, ranging from hula skirts and coconut bras (worn by both women and men) to parrot hats and pirate costumes. The only difference that night was that the aforementioned items were on sweaters and jeans while the hats also provided some warmth.
Speaking of staying warm, this was a Jimmy Buffett gig, so when you walked in you knew there would be a lot of booze in the blender and frozen concoctions, doubling that night as old school antifreeze. .
For lifestyle artists such as Buffett and The Grateful Dead, live performances become more about validation and celebration, with audiences reveling in deep cuts.
This was the case with Buffett’s song, “Delaney Talks to Statues,” which came from the 1994 album “Fruitcakes”. Buffett dedicated the song to his daughter, Delaney, who, during the shutdown, helped organize the fan-run acoustic album, “Songs You Don’t Know By Heart,” which was released last fall.
The loving song about fathers and daughters provided the multigenerational audience with a moment to reflect on the connections and importance of family, especially over the past 18 months.
Besides all the flagship tracks (“Fins”, “Volcano”, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” and, of course, “Margaritaville”), the Parrotheads were presented with new tracks “Down at the Lah De Dah” and “The Slow Lane” from Buffett’s latest album “Life On The Flip Side”, which – also released last year – is his first studio album in seven years.
Noting that the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival had been postponed until the spring, Buffett brought a bit of the Big Easy to Northeast Ohio with a mini jazz festival that ended with the aptly titled “I Will. Play for Gumbo ”.
“It looks a bit like Mardi Gras here with all the people in disguise,” Buffett said with a laugh. “That’s where it all started with Parrothead, here in Ohio.”
The audience not only ate it, but followed the song by asking, “How many people like a cheeseburger with their okra?” Of course, next came a tasty “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.
In his set for a quarter of a century, the crowd-pleasing “Southern Cross” cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash acts as something of an outlier. What’s interesting is that in an evening filled with wandering mid-tempo storytelling, the classic mid-tempo rock melody received an upbeat treatment that fits perfectly into the ocean-themed motif. by Buffett.
As if Buffett didn’t need more air on alcohol, he has now co-opted “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson. Of course, the beach artist’s hit island music sound is built on a country-rock foundation with steel drums.
The latter conducted “One Particular Harbor”, which also saw long-time Coral Reefer Band backing vocalist Nadirah Shakoor stand out with a rousing performance.
Currently, in his sixth decade of touring, Buffett has provided many thoughts on Northeast Ohio and its importance to his career. Specifically, he said the Blossom Music Center meant a lot with the earliest memories of performances in front of crowds of 25,000 people.
“This is what Blossom means to me and this is what Ohio means to me,” Buffett said.
He later added, “At first I came to Cleveland and they put me on the Don Webster TV show. It’s my age. (Webster was the host of “Upbeat,” the groundbreaking musical television series that aired weekly on WEWS-TV Channel 5 in Cleveland from 1964 to 1971.)
The night ended with Buffett thanking his rabid fan base and first responders for their help over the past year and a half. He left his fans with a simple message: “Get the vaccine and restart America.” “