Concert Review: Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers @ Royal Farms Arena (3/30/18)

Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett at the U.S. Naval Academy on March 29, 2018 (Photo from FB @jimmybuffett)

Jimmy Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band thrilled Baltimore on Good Friday, March 30th!

Nearing the end of his I Don’t Know Tour at the Royal Farms Arena, Jimmy gave the swarming mass of Parrotheads 26 songs and a lot of love and luck to enjoy. From my 5th row vantage point, it was another incredible show, also streamed live on Margaritaville Radio.

Before going any further, here are five things I want you to know about Jimmy Buffett:

  1. He’s reached the ripe age of 71. He claimed to want to slow down at 70 and enjoy his new boat, The Drifter. Not happening so far.
  2. He’s been singing for almost 50 years and touring with the Coral Reefer Band for 44.
  3. He’s released 29 albums in his career, including his most recent Christmas album, ‘Tis the SeaSon, from 2016.
  4. He’s performed too many shows to count (for me; although someone has) and tours every year. One of the most prolific touring artists ever, and I’ve only made it to four shows so far!
  5. He has his own beer known as LandShark Lager brewed by Anheuser-Busch for his Margaritaville restaurants. I only bring this up because I need five things and there were plenty available for the pre-party on the street outside Royal Farms Arena.

Opening the evening was country artist Caroline Jones, who played a very excellent set promoting her new album, Bare Feet. Give her a listen. She also came back to join the band later on a couple of songs.

Then Jimmy, in board shorts and tee, and the full Coral Reefer Band took positions and dove right in to “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”, which was a fitting song to get a cold Baltimore in the mood.

The Coral Reefer Band itself is prodigious. Including Jimmy, there are 12 members that span the gamut of instrumentation and backup vocals. From three drum sets (including steel drums by Robert Greenidge) to keyboards (Michael Utley) to guitar to pedal steel guitar (Doyle Grisham) to dancers to more lead vocals (at times Mac McAnally and Nadirah Shakoor) and more, the band is full of movement and dazzle and energy. The rest of the band are: Peter Mayer (guitar), Jim Mayer (bass), Roger Guth (drums), John Lovell (trumpet), Tina Gullickson (guitar) and Eric Darken (percussion).

The band formed two rows in front of a giant screen that flicked through images, videos and photos throughout the night.

A few songs later Jimmy brought Caroline back out, where they played “Come Monday” and the whole arena sang along. The screen transformed to show beautiful images of the wilderness and Jimmy and others out in nature, it rather appeared they were hoping the grind of Monday never actually came, because instead you’re living life to the fullest.

Jimmy is famous for performing his ‘Big 8’ songs during concerts. Two more have been added in the last 15 years (“It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere” and “One Particular Harbor”). They indeed played all save one (“Why Don’t We Get Drunk” – he rarely plays it now). As they closed out “Fins” and led in to “Margaritaville”, with Caroline once again sharing vocal duties, he said his most asked question is ‘don’t you get tired of playing the same songs every night?’ He responded with a resounding ‘Hell no! I love playing the songs you all want to hear. That’s why I’m here, for you!’ Thanks, Jimmy! We were there for you, so it all worked out.

“A Pirate Looks At 40” came towards the end of the main set, and is one of my favorite songs by him, with one of my favorite lyrics about getting older, ‘Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late, the cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder, I’m an over-forty victim of fate, arriving too late.’ They closed out the main set with “Volcano”, and the refrain for the tour name ‘I don’t know’ echoed loudly from the lips of everyone (probably) in arena.

Throughout, they gave us a few covers, like “Learning To Fly” and “Southern Cross”. Also, Mac McAnally (winning all Michael McDonald look-alike contests) sang lead on two songs. “Little Martha” served as a break for the rest of the band, and later “Back Where I Come From”, which Mac originally wrote and recorded in 1990, regaled the big screen with scenes of Baltimore to get the crowd excited.

My forays into Parrotheaddom started in 1998 at the Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, WA) and moved on to Nissan Pavilion (now Jiffy Lube Live) in 2006 and 2009, where I got the full culture shock of people dressing up, creating dioramas with their vehicles or parking spaces (notable, a giant active volcano car and an adult-sized beach sandbox). That level of commitment wasn’t on display in the latitude of Baltimore, but plenty of people wore the appropriate attire and enjoyed the requisite attitude.

That attitude included a healthy amount of beach balls bouncing around the seats and hopping off heads and faces. After a number of ‘hopped in the glasses’ mishaps, a few of my seat neighbors started hoarding the beach balls. By the end of the night they had over 20 stashed away, out of circulation.

Returning for the encore, they played another one of my favorites “One Particular Harbor”, with a fun mix of energetic chorus and a beautiful little come down for ‘but there’s this one particular harbor’ about finding a place just for you. We all need such a spot.

Jimmy and band ended with “Lovely Cruise” and as the masses streamed out, maybe not relishing our cruise home, we certainly felt better for the experience. Certainly eager to do it again soon.

Setlist
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us About
Knees Of My Heart
Pencil Thin Mustache
Growing Older But Not Up
Come Monday
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
Weather With You (Crowded House cover)
Beautiful Swimmers (first time played live)
It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere (Alan Jackson cover)
Fins
Margaritaville
Little Martha (sang by Mac McAnally)
He Went to Paris
Gypsies in the Palace
Take It Easy (Eagles cover)
Learning To Fly (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Last Mango In Paris
A Pirate Looks at 40
Back Where I Come From (sang by Mac McAnally)
Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills & Nash cover)
Volcano

Encore
One Particular Harbor
Love and Luck
Lovely Cruise

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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