Jimmy Buffett has dubbed his 2008 summer tour “The Year Of Still Here,” a title that denotes a bemused disbelief about the 61-year-old troubadour’s continued success that is, needless to say, profoundly insane: Barring some sort of catastrophic crash in the grass-skirt industry or the subprime blow-up pool market, what possible reason could there be to get this show off the road?
Buffett’s beach blanket blowouts are as reliable as the waves, the stars and – to be slightly less breezy and escapist about the whole thing – the gross receipts at the end of each prove that. The shows are sellouts and the songs are staples. Sure, pavilion seats – and beers, alcoholic squishies and goofball plastic cups – are expensive as hell, but Buffett has held face value for the lawn seats to around a relatively ridiculous $30 for years. And the continued spot-development of small, friendly hamlets built from inflatable items, pickup truck pools and insta-tiki bars in parking lots across the land is also an annual spectacle.
Like flying buddy Harrison Ford, another sixtysomething enjoying a little spotlight this summer, Buffett’s draw continues to be a two-and-a-half hour tribute to nostalgia and the communal familiar. Buffett and his band keep this up while betraying a sense of giddy enthusiasm.
The North Carolina setlist (see below) was a generous 29 songs despite game-time temps of about nine thousand degrees. It reads as a standard Buffett setlist will, but credit goes to him for endeavoring to use the few open slots available each year to unbury some old gold, like the ’70s rambler “Tryin’ To Reason With Hurricane Season,” the frothy “Makin’ Music for Money” (featuring lead vocals by formidable longtime backup singer Nadirah Shakoor) and a plugged-in take on “Cowboy in the Jungle.”
The chestnuts had some work done as well. The jaunty “Fruitcakes” got new lyrics about “The Daily Show” and the Texas polygamists, while “Come Monday” was handled acoustically by Buffett and guitarist Mac McAnally and “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor” got a bigger, full-band treatment. Buffett also earned points for eschewing an intermission in favor of a mini-set by part-time Coral Reefer guitarist Sonny Landreth, who stepped in for “Hell at Home” from his excellent new set “From the Reach.” (And for cred points, Buffett referenced a cover of “A Pirate Looks at 40” performed this year at Jack Johnson’s Kokua festival by Johnson and Dave Matthews.)
To his traditional roster of escapist-themed covers Buffett has added “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35,” which he issued with apologies to Dylan and a tease to Buffett’s upcoming appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. That’ll be a show where he can re-tune his guitar, rummage around in the song trunk and revisit some of the softer, simpler corners of the catalog. Until then, he’ll have to settle for just the summertime blowout, which, at this time next year, will be still here, to his credit, and bemused disbelief.
Here is Jimmy Buffett’s set list:
“License To Chill”
“Pencil Thin Mustache”
“Miss You So Badly”
“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”
“Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes”
“Cowboy In The Jungle”
“Brown Eyed Girl”
“Cheeseburger In Paradise”
“One Particular Harbour”
“Why Don’t We Get Drunk”
“Hell at Home” (Sonny Landreth vocals)
“USS Zydecoldsmobile” (with Landreth)
“Son Of A Son Of A Sailor”
“School Boy Heart”
“Makin’ Music For Money” (Nadirah Shakoor vocals)
“Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season”
“A Pirate Looks At 40”
“Far Side Of The World”
“Rainy Day Women #12 and 35”
“Coast Of Carolina”