Music Review

Buffett and followers still at home in Margaritaville

By Scott McLennan
Globe Correspondent / June 20, 2011

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Jimmy Buffett opened the summer leg of his “Welcome to Fin Land’’ tour Saturday at the Comcast Center, and all seemed right in Margaritaville.

Of course Buffett and his followers still call the venue by its original name, Great Woods, in recognition of its hallowed place as an early stronghold for Parrotheads, back when they could be counted on to sell out the amphitheater three times over.

The allure of wearing grass skirts and coconut bras while drinking frozen cocktails in a Mansfield parking lot for hours before a concert has died down to a single show these days, but Buffett and his followers still robustly maintain their mutually created mythology.

With his batch of honky-tonk-meets-Caribbean songs celebrating a mildly roguish lifestyle of indulgence and good humor, Buffett supplies the soundtrack and philosophy. With their willingness to be perhaps the most participatory audience in concert history, the Parrotheads have elevated Buffett concerts to cultural phenomena. If you find the music simple and dull and the crowd obnoxious, simply don’t go to the party; if this is your thing, well Jimmy and his Coral Reefer Band will be back next year and the year after (and he’ll sell you his branded booze and burgers in between tour stops if you really can’t wait).

Buffett isn’t one to rock the boat, drawing his repertoire mainly from his run of albums released between 1973 and 1983, when he crafted the Margaritaville esthetic that blossomed into songs about fins, cheeseburgers, volcanoes, and harbors.

An arch entertainer, Buffett tapped into Bruins fever and masterfully rode that wave of team adulation all night for cheers. Opening with “The Wino and I Know,’’ Buffett took to the stage wearing a namesake shirt that used the Bruins spoked-B as the first letter in Buffett. For song two, Buffett transformed his oldie “Boat Drinks’’ with new lyrics about the Bruins’ Stanley Cup victory and celebratory parade.

The Coral Reefer Band smoothly blended gritty guitars with breezy rhythms. Guitar ace Mac McAnally stepped up to sing the hit “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.’’ McAnally and Buffett’s acoustic duo reading of “A Pirate Looks at 40’’ captured a bit of the star’s early folky days, as did the second encore “He Went to Paris.’’ Buffett performed that final song alone with acoustic guitar, presenting an image of what might have been had he not found his way into Margaritaville.

Scott McLennan can be reached at