By Tim O'Brien
The song "Growing Older But Not Up" could very well describe a trip to see Jimmy Buffett. Not just for us but for him as well.
The annual party commenced at Alpine Valley in East Troy Aug. 25 and that mantra played out as 30,000 or more fans packed the music theater for a tradition no one wants to end. However, after listening to the show and then looking in the mirror, it may have to. Buffett himself forgot the words to some of those treasures but it did not take anything away from a splendid day and night of living in Margaritaville.
Getting to Alpine Vally is a pilgrimage in itself and when there, another mantra would be, "get there early." The crowd started showing up at around 11:30 a.m. for a show that starts at 8 p.m. Sure, the tailgating is a huge part of the event. In fact, many simply do that and do not even head in, but most do. Anybody wishing to get there before the actual parking lot opening time of 3 p.m., will pay a fee. And they do not care. The spot in which ones parties could be more important than where one sits in the amphitheater. It is also a time to pace for a long day of drinking, eating and friendly conversation.
Location: East Troy, Wisconsin
As Buffett ages along with his fans, the music seems to matter more, too. When those story songs are played, a but of melancholy and harking back to better days, spring to mind. At Alpine Valley, after the "Hot Hot Hot" song, as the band entered the stage, the familiar strings of "One Particular Harbour" could be heard. Could that be the first song he plays? You bet and because of that, one knew it would be a special night. Starting with that song, for those true blue fans, it was a perfect way to begin.
For the younger fans, they need "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise," but the older fans need "Pirate Looks at 40" and "Come Monday." They were all there as the set contained 22 songs, with intermission. Then he was back for the first encore; two songs, and then a second one; two more songs.
So, the total, 27 songs that filled the night sky in Wisconsin. The ending was fitting as word came during the day that Neil Armstrong had died. Buffett, no stranger to history, paid tribute with an acoustic ending with "Oysters and Pearls."
A simple gesture was all that was needed during that song - looking skyward. And the crowd went into the night.
During the show, he played a tribute to Andy Griffith with "Piece of Work."