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Live in Mansfield, MA

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Album Review

Jimmy Buffett jumped on the bandwagon of fan-oriented no-frills live recordings in 2003, when he issued six two-CD sets of shows from his summer 2003 tour, and he concluded the collection with two final concerts released in January 2004, this one marking the end of the tour on Labor Day weekend in Mansfield, MA, and the other from Cincinnati cut four days earlier. Unlike the Grateful Dead, who began the live-album bonanza, and some of its other practitioners, notably the Allman Brothers Band and Phish, Buffett cannot claim to present radically different set lists from night to night, nor does his band play with enough improvisation to make different versions of his songs uniquely interesting. Instead, he plays pretty much the same songs. This show, for example, shares 21 songs out of 28, in nearly the same order, with the Mansfield show, the exceptions being some minor substitutions. All the songs a Parrot Head would expect — "Son of a Son of a Sailor," "Come Monday," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "A Pirate Looks at 40," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," "Margaritaville," "Volcano," "Fins" — are played, and musically they don't differ much from the records or from hundreds of other performances. But the difference, and it's one Parrot Heads will appreciate it, is that unlike his more musically adventurous competitors, Buffett is a showman. An unsympathetic observer would say that he panders to his audience shamelessly. Rarely during the Mansfield show does one forget that the performance is taking place in New England. Buffett certainly never does, and that means constant references to everything from the New England Patriots to Martha's Vineyard, if not in his stage remarks then shoehorned somehow into a revised song lyric. Just as with the music, many of the singer's introductions vary little from ones heard on earlier volumes. But when there is a difference, it's usually to introduce an element of local color. The result is a disc that will make a terrific souvenir for anyone who was at the Mansfield show. And, as is true of other discs in the series, if a less geographically aligned fan were to buy just one of these albums, it would provide a good live best-of; the set list may not have changed much from night to night on the 2003 tour, but that list (and thus this album) is a reasonable summation of Buffett's career.


Born: 25 December 1946 in Pascagoula, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jimmy Buffett translated his easygoing Gulf Coast persona into more than just a successful recording career -- he expanded into clothing, nightclubs, and literature -- but the basis of the business empire that kept him on the Fortune magazine list of highest-earning entertainers was his music. Born in southern Mississippi and raised in Alabama, Buffett moved to Nashville to try to make it in country music in the late '60s. After signing to the Barnaby label, he released one album, 1970's Down to...
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