Monday, July 30, 2012

Adam Graham 2012 Detroit Jimmy Buffett Concert Review

Detroit — A sold-out crowd of more than 39,000 Parrotheads turned Comerica Park into Margaritaville Saturday at Jimmy Buffett's first-ever concert in the city of Detroit. And given the overwhelming success of the show, it would be a surprise if it was his last.
The Buffett experience, first and foremost, is about the environment. It's a place where adult males can wear coconut bras and grass skirts and where everyone can act like they're on Spring Break. The concert is only a small part of the festivities, coming after a long day of partying in the parking lot. And after all that partying, fans aren't looking to be challenged. They want the familiar, which Buffett is more than happy to provide.

Anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge about Jimmy Buffett could likely guess 75 percent of the setlist, from "Come Monday" to "Volcano" to "Cheeseburger in Paradise." He spiced up the songs with liberal references to Detroit and the surrounding areas, and turned "Margaritaville" — complete with an assist from Birmingham-bred basketball star Shane Battier on bongos — into a veritable love letter to Michigan. The show included more shout-outs to Detroit than even a Kid Rock concert.
More than anything, it trafficked in the familiar. It wasn't progressive or musically challenging, and it was probably very similar to a Jimmy Buffett concert in 1985, or 1995, or 2005. Buffett isn't about blowing you away with his on-stage energy like Bruce Springsteen or challenging you like Radiohead. He's about creating a lighthearted, easygoing environment, an escape from everyday troubles. Couldn't make it to the beach this summer? A day at a Buffett show will do. Work got you down, kids giving you a hard time? Hire a sitter and spend the day out in the sun with Buffett. Nurse your hangover on Sunday.

Even given that low bar, there were portions of Saturday's concert that were as painful as a bad sunburn. Fans beelined for the bathrooms in droves when Buffett's backup singer Nadirah Shakoor took center stage on "Queen of Somewhere Hot," and an early show performance of "Jamaica Mistaica" was an embarrassment to the Jamaican flag that was used as a backdrop on the stage's video screen.

And nothing was done to scale the concert to Comerica Park; the venue was bigger, but the show had the same production it would have had it been at DTE Energy Music Theatre. Even Comerica Park's new scoreboard video screen, which would have enhanced the visual experience of the show, wasn't utilized. A better use of the concert space would have made the show feel more special; other shows that have been at Comerica Park, from Jay-Z and Eminem to Kid Rock, have made much better use of the stadium setting.

Few seemed to care, however. The hard-partying Parrotheads danced in the aisles throughout the show, even doing conga lines through the sections. Fans came to have a good time and a good time was had by all, so the nitpicking seems extraneous. The ends justify the means, I guess.
The show does score bonus points for having Lionel Richie as an opener. His hits-packed opening set started the party early, and the vibe continued "All Night Long" — to the point where fans were treated to two performances of Richie's hit, once during his own set and again during Buffett's set. Richie, whose album "Tuskegee" is one of the year's surprise best-sellers, made for a perfect opener, and seems primed and ready to go out on a big comeback arena tour of his own. You simply forget how many hits the guy has until he's up there performing them one after another.

From The Detroit News:

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