Wednesday, June 06, 2001

A concert for every Parrothead in Cincinnati

By Chris Varias
Enquirer contributor

        There were fins to the left, fins to the right, beach balls in the air, and drunken beach-bum wannabes everywhere at Jimmy Buffett's annual sold-out stop at Riverbend Tuesday.

        The name of this year's tour is "2001, A Beach Odyssey." To carry out the theme Mr. Buffett's steel-guitar player Doyle Grisham wore a space helmet during a song. There was also a spoof on Stanley Kubrick's 2001 in which Hal the computer makes — you'll never guess — margaritas.

        Despite such ingenious customizations, the show, lasting over two hours with a couple short breaks, was the usual stuff with no surprises, as the Parrotheads like it: The same song introductions. The same songs. The acknowledgement of Cincinnati's pioneering Buffettmania. The video clips of fans partying in the parking lot before the show — gratuitous unedited shots of women flashing the camera.

        The references to Cincinnati, where Buffett lore says the term Parrotheads was coined, were plenty. Before he and his Coral Reefer Band launched into the night's third song, a cover of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," he said the show was being transmitted live on his web site "from the banks of the Ohio River where it all started." The song itself had a revamped first verse, as Mr. Buffett sang lyrics concerning the flood that knocked out the first two shows at Riverbend last month.

        He talked about his early days in town, when he and other Cincinnatians would do their "sinnin' in Covington."

        "Now," he said, "you sin all over town." Whatever that means.

        The only thing the Parrotheads seemed to appreciate more than hearing their hero utter the word "Cincinnati" was any time they heard the Coral Reefer Band bust into a familiar song opening. And amid the 25-song set there were plenty: "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "Margaritaville," "Fins," "Last Mango in Paris," "Come Monday," and more.

        Although the set concentrated on the party anthems, Mr. Buffett threw in a moment to let a long-time band member shine, even if half the crowd was in line for a beer when it went down. He and guitarist Mac McAnally returned after a brief intermission for an acoustic duet on "It's My Job."


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