Outside of a stadium, amphitheatre or an arena (at the absolute smallest), it’s next to impossible to catch Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band in concert. Yet Parrotheads throughout Chicago (and those who made the pilgrimage from around the country) were treated to an unbelievably intimate show at the House Of Blues as a semi-surprise precursor to the “I Don’t Know” Tour stopping by the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre next Saturday.
As far as the uber-familiar likes of “Cheeseburger In Paradise,” “Fins,” “Volcano,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “One Particular Harbour,” Buffett probably played them all a billion times, but delivered each like he was having an absolute blast.
Although the downtown Chicago hot spot wasn’t exactly equipped for tailgating, it nonetheless provided a chance to see the veteran singer/songwriter and his island-themed band (who barely fit on the stage) perform up close and personal. Of course, there was still a spirit of revelry in the air as Buffett kicked off the instantly sold out evening with “Summerzcool” and kept beaming through the breezy finale “Banana Republics” nearly two-and-a-half hours later, though the low key environment also gave faithful a more conducive chance to savor his songwriting than when he plays bigger places.
Even if the “Margaritaville” man isn’t held with the same esteem as fellow 1970s start-ups James Taylor and Jackson Browne, he’s actually quite an articulate and gifted storyteller who’s hands down the top troubadour when it comes to “Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads.” Each category popped up in ample quantity at the House Of Blues with “Pencil Thin Mustache,” “Peanut Butter Conspiracy,” “Cowboy In The Jungle,” “I Don’t Know” (from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) and “Gypsies In The Palace” (co-written with his former neighbor and “Hotel California” tourmate Glenn Frey) getting some much deserved airtime.
As far as the uber-familiar likes of “Cheeseburger In Paradise,” “Fins,” “Volcano,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “One Particular Harbour,” Buffett probably played them all a billion times, but delivered each like he was having an absolute blast. And given the extremely relaxed and fairly spontaneous tone of this rare club gig, it’s quite likely his expressions of joy and gratitude were genuine, as they were for Parrotheads who surely concurred when their fearless leader exclaimed “it’s gonna stay five o’clock until Tinley Park.”
Jimmy Buffett returns with Huey Lewis & The News on Saturday, June 25 at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. For additional details, visit LiveNation.com.
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For additional information on Jimmy Buffett, visit Margaritaville.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at House Of Blues, visit HouseOfBlues.com/Chicago.