DALLAS — If anybody knows how to kick off summer, it’s Jimmy Buffett.
The perennially sunny superstar closed a concert here at Texas Stadium on Saturday night (May 29), heating up the Memorial Day weekend with beach balls, tailgating and dancing girls.
“This is what happens when you go down to the islands with Alan Jackson and George Strait,” Buffett told the crowd after opening his set with “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”
Oh yeah, Jackson and Strait were there, too, with all three acts sharing equal billing. For country traditionalists, the Strait/Jackson combination is hard to beat. But like a light switch, the crowd flipped when Buffett took the stage — dancing on chairs, chugging $10 margaritas and joining in on every single song.
Buffett and his 13-piece troupe proved a compatible companion for the country stars. The famously enthusiastic Buffett was visibly thrilled to sing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” with Strait — with the audience in distant harmony. No surprise there. That country classic is as suited to singing along with as the rest of Buffett’s catalog, and even if you don’t know the verses, everybody knows the chorus.
Buffett is particularly hot right now, and he knows it. Catching a new wave following his smash hit Alan Jackson, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” Buffett will release a country album in July, and he previewed several tunes from the collection, including “License to Chill.”
Jackson joined him on stage for Guy Clark’s “Boats to Build,” and Strait returned to the stage to trade verses on Don Gibson’s “Sea of Heartbreak.” And as the barefoot-and-tanned singer eagerly sang his classics (“Come Monday,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise”) and other people’s too (“Brown Eyed Girl”), the Parrotheads bopped in time to the infectious Latin rhythms.
During his set, Strait told the crowd that this concert had been in the planning stages for two or three years. And it might not have happened at all if Strait hadn’t recovered from a lingering throat infection that forced him to postpone several dates earlier this year. Yet, he carried the second spot with strong singing and his own brand of modest self-confidence.
While some stars of Strait’s stature might consider it an insult to be a so-called opening act, the Texas native relished the moment. He mixed his signatures (“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”) with new stuff (“Honk if You Honky Tonk”), and of course, got a standing ovation for “Amarillo by Morning.” He also spotlighted some memorable songs from a while back, including “Unwound,” “The Fireman,” “Run,” “Blue Clear Sky” and the rodeo classic, “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.” Although he didn’t offer anything from Pure Country, he did bring Jackson on stage to sing “Murder on Music Row.”
Jackson came on first, a little after 5:00 p.m. (What better time?) Wearing a tropical shirt and ripped jeans, he warmed up the crowd with “Gone Country” and “I Don’t Even Know Your Name.” Halfway through the second song, I’d already had beach balls bounce against my face, my shoulders and the top of my head.
“Tonight, we’ll be playing you some country music and whatever it is that Jimmy does,” Jackson said. Known for being tight-lipped, Jackson seemed particularly chatty with the audience, telling them about writing “Dallas,” a song from his first album, on a drive back to Tennessee. From the stage, he joked about the rambunctious crowd. “You put a country, cowboy and parrot group together, it’s bound to be wild.”
In the midst of a string of hits, Jackson introduced a new song, “Too Much of a Good Thing Is a Good Thing.” He also invited Strait, wearing a gray Dallas Cowboys T-shirt, to the stage for “Designated Drinker.” He then sang a few covers, including Hank Williams Jr.’s “Texas Women” and “Blues Man,” as well as “Summertime Blues,” “Pop a Top” and a bluegrass take on “Seven Bridges Road.” Then the place went nuts when Buffett sauntered on stage with an enormous red foam cowboy hat for “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” a song that should endure the same way that “Chattahoochee” has. To close out his set, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders did their thing to the tune of “Where I Come From.”
Buffett, Strait and Jackson united at the encore for “Hey, Good Lookin’,” Buffett’s current country single. Surprisingly, Jackson even worked the stage a little bit, strolling from the center to each of the corners, singing to the rafters. Strait especially seemed completely in his element. Though it’s impossible to imagine him living anywhere but Texas, he’s likely got an island somewhere in his future.
The trio took its final bow with the ultimate summer song, “Margaritaville,” before Buffett returned for one last round. Though the moon could be seen shining through the roof of Texas stadium, it sure felt like a hot summer day.
“I Don’t Even Know Your Name”
“Livin’ on Love”
“Too Much of a Good Thing Is a Good Thing”
“Don’t Rock the Jukebox”
“The Blues Man”
“Pop a Top”
“Seven Bridges Road”
“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”
“Where I Come From”
“Honk if You Honky Tonk”
“Check Yes or No”
“I Can Still Make Cheyenne”
“Stars on the Water”
“There Stands the Glass”
“Murder on Music Row”
“Amarillo by Morning”
“Blue Clear Sky”
“Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”
“She’ll Leave You With a Smile”
“Take Me Back to Tulsa”
“All My Ex’s Live in Texas”
“Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa”
“Cowboys Like Us”
“The Best Day”
“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”
“Great Filling Station Holdup”
“Pencil Thin Mustache”
“License to Chill”
“Son of a Son of a Sailor”
“Gypsies in the Palace”
“Boats to Build”
“Cheeseburger in Paradise”
“The Pascagoula Run”
“Why Don’t We Get Drunk”
“Brown Eyed Girl”
“Sea of Heartbreak”
“A Pirate Looks at Forty”
“One Particular Harbour”
“Hey, Good Lookin’”
“Northeast Texas Women”