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Concert Reviews:
Jimmy Buffett brings Margaritaville to Comerica Park

for Journal Register Newspapers

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DETROIT -- Jimmy Buffett is perfectly happy digging his toes in the Florida sand, as far as we know.

But after the singer-songwriter-partymeister's show Saturday night, July 28, at Comerica Park, he'd certainly be welcomed in any capacity in the Detroit metro area, up to and including mayor of whatever municipality he might choose.

A showman right down to some knowingly corny between-song patter, Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band made Saturday's concert -- a stadium extravaganza that, for one night only, brought along Lionel Richie as a special guest -- a Detroit-centric celebration not unlike those Kid Rock has staged at Comerica, albeit with fewer hooker references and more songs about booze than drugs. Buffett sported a Tigers home jersey as he introduced Roddie Romero & the Hub City All Stars, his New Orleans pals who opened the show, and kept it on when he joined Richie for "All Night Long" (Buffett guests on the re-recording from Richie's latest album, "Tuskegee"). And during his own 25-song, two-hour and 15-minute performance, Buffett dubbed Detroit "one of my favorite stops and proclaimed -- a couple of times -- that it's "always Motown, always Motor Town."

He liberally changed the lyrics of his songs to reference local totems such as sports teams, Little Caesars pizza and Pine Knob, his usual summer stop, and even recalled an early career stop at the Raven Gallery in Southfield. Buffett also incorporated a couple of local guests into the show as well: guitar hero Earl Klugh for "Jamiaca Mistaica" and "Come Monday" and, more surprisingly, hoopster Shaine Battier -- the Birmingham-born, Detroit Country Day and University of Michigan grad who now plays for the Miami Heat -- to play congas on "Margaritaville," though not well enough for him to think about hanging up the sneakers.

Each of those mentions was heartily cheered by the Comerica crowd of 39,000-plus, a legion that started partying around the stadium on Saturday morning and sported the traditional Parrothead fashions of floral print shirts, grass skirts, coconut bras and funny hats -- with at least one fan dressed as Elvis Presley and another in a full-body parrot outfit.

As Buffett noted, "the Olympics, yeah, they're in London tonight, but the party's in Detroit."

And, truthfully, it would have been a party if Buffett barely mentioned the city's name. The Parrotheads come to his shows to be transported to that fictional, laid-back, tropical world of "Margaritaville," and that's what Buffett and company delivered on top of and in addition to all the Detroit-promoting. The must-play favorites were present and accounted for, from rabble-rousers such as "Volcano," "Why Don't We Get Drunk...," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise" -- which incorporated bits of Chris Kenner's "Land of 1000 Dances" and had the stadium literally shaking -- to more melodic fare like "son of a Song of a Sailor," "Come Monday" and "A Pirate Looks at Forty."

True Parrotheads, meanwhile, certainly appreciated Buffett and company digging deep for the likes of "Gypsies in the Palace," "Mermaid in the Night" and "Bama Breeze" as well as incorporating renditions of the Zac Brown Band's "Knee Deep" and Alan Jackson's "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and a selection of covers that included Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night," the Blue Hawaiians "Swingin' Hula Girl" and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl."

And Buffet brought back Richie -- whose 65-minute set was laden with hits from his days with the Commodores and as a solo artist -- for a reprise of "All Night Long," which was even more enthusiastically received than the first.

As he introduced the show-closing "Fins," Buffett promised to come back next year, though he didn't specify if he'd return to Comerica or to the DTE Energy Music Theatre. But he can rest assured that wherever he chooses will welcome him with open arms.

A note to Comerica Park, though; a Buffett show means more than a few Parrotheads might want cheeseburgers, and it was hardly paradise waiting 30 minutes or longer for orders to be filled at the booth in the stadium's food court. That's a mandatory fix if there's a next time.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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