by Max Brantley
Jimmy Buffett and band capped a warm day of tailgating by his fans in North Little Rock yesterday with a sellout Verizon Arean crowd of more than 16,000.
Kelley Bass reports:
It’s good to be Jimmy Buffett. He’s got his own brand of beer, Landshark. His own bar/restaurant chain, Margaritaville. And when he decides to come to come to Verizon Arena he sells out in 90 minutes — the norm wherever he plays. All that wonderfulness with only one hit song to his credit (you know which one).
But from a critical point of view it’s even better for JB — his concerts are a coronation, not an examination of whether or not he’s on his game that night.
Buffett and his extraordinary 12-piece backing band — including Arkie-deluxe Mike Utley, his band leader and keyboard player for 30 years or so — were absolutely the toasts of the town, if not the state, Thursday night as they thrilled 16,161 Parrotheads.
The question was whether the biggest party was inside or outside Verizon Arena. From the huge Ben E. Keith party on the grass outside Dickey-Stephens Park to the west to the jam-packed RV park craziness past the Clinton Bridge to the east, North Little Rock was alive like it’s rarely if ever been. The parties started Wednesday, and by 5 p.m. Thursday it was truly electric, thanks in part to the warm, sunny weather that conjured up feelings of south-Florida Buffett country.
An examination of the technical prowess of Buffett and his band is moot. He played all the songs his adoring Parrothead Nation wanted to hear, plus a few lesser-known tunes that gave folks time to endure the long beer and bathroom lines.
It’s good to be Jimmy Buffett — walking on stage to complete adoration, barefoot, in a T-shirt and what looked like long swim trunks. And how, by the way, did he get to town? On a Dassault Falcon Jet 900 — a sweet, sweet ride that reinforces the Arkansas connection — just one more clear and obvious reason it is good to be Jimmy Buffett.