I got to scratch one off my “bucket list” last night when Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band came to town, transforming Amway Arena into Margaritaville for a sold-out show. In the 40 years Buffett has been performing, he has compiled a great songbook and perfected a marketing machine that allows him to charge $136 for a lower bowl ticket and $45 for a t-shirt. Nobody’s complaining, though, because Buffett puts on a great show, embracing his audience like an old friend.
When Buffett walked on stage, the first thing he did was kick off his flip flops, then he performed barefoot the rest of the night, bouncing and hopping around the stage as if he were hanging out with us in a beachside bar in Antigua. Weather permitting, it’s hard to catch me in anything but flip flops, but weather was definitely not permitting last night and I had to dress for court earlier, so I was feeling pretty out of place wearing khakis and a tailored shirt in a sea of sharkfin hats, parrot heads, Hawaiian print shirts, and LED-equipped sombreros.
A Buffett concert is a kind of mental health barometer. (Translation: If you aren’t having a good time, you probably need to book a session with your psychiatrist!) Last night, it seemed we were all in sound mental health as the whole crowd was on their feet dancing throughout the show.
The Coral Reefer Band was stellar – 4 percussionists (including outstanding steel drums and bongos), 5 guitars (including a pedal steel guitar for Buffett’s country-flavored songs), solid keyboards and a trumpet for punch. The set incuded some lesser- known songs and all of his greatest hits – “Come Monday”, “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, “Changes in Latitude”, and of course “Margaritaville”. The band also performed covers of Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Southern Cross”, Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl”, and what had to be the stand-out of the night, Bob Marley’s “One Love”, which was preceded by a moving music video of the song being beautifully performed all over the world, from three women standing in an empty field in India to a small band playing on balconies in the Soweto ghetto.
Buffett did a lot of reminiscing during the show, often referring to his Florida-Alabama roots and displaying a real affection for Orlando. The video screens played several shots of Buffett surfing and paddleboarding, and he jokingly recalled how he and his buddies in Mobile used to hope for hurricanes so they could get some decent waves to ride. By the end, I had decided Buffett was my new hero, something the rest of the adoring crowd had figured out years ago. Who else can make smoking grass and drinking beer seem like a wise choice and a strategic career move?
Posted by guest blogger Spencer Rhodes, a Central Florida native. In addition to practicing law, Spencer is a long-time Jimmy Buffett fan.