Let's face it -- covering a Jimmy Buffett concert is kind of like trying to review a big, drunken party. It isn't just that both types of event boast plenty of boisterous, inebriated people doing silly things at loud volume; no, it's mainly because reviews tend to harp on the quality of a performance, while Buffett fans and party-goers (if that's not redundant) are far more concerned with how much fun is being had.
Thus, it seems a fair guess that few in the crowd at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night much cared whether Buffett was on-pitch for every note in "Come Monday," or how clever Amy Lee's soprano saxophone solo in "That's What Living Is to Me" might have been. As long as there were no egregious errors ( don't worry -- there weren't), the musical end of things was fine with this crew.
But it was hardly the focus of the evening. Instead, what Buffett and his horde of Parrot Heads were most interested in were things like holding their hands above their heads and making like sharks during "Fins," or shouting out the rude bits to "Let's Get Drunk." And they did, too. With gusto. Granted, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but then, having neither a beer in my hand nor a balloon animal on my head, perhaps I wasn't in the proper frame of mind. Rowdy as it was, though, the capacity crowd was remarkably good-natured and did its best to get everyone involved, like the lady behind me who cheerily nipped at my ear with her shark puppet during "Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude." (When was the last time you were at a concert where people brought props?)
Critics will be critics, though, and despite the party-hearty nature of the show, there was still room for some griping. For instance, it's too bad that Buffett's best moments -- like his lean, artful reading of "He Went to Paris," or the lushly-harmonized rendition of "By the Rivers of Babylon" -- weren't given the quiet respect they deserved.
But who goes to a party to listen?
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band perform again tonight and Sunday.