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Superb Buffett DVD chronicles Wrigley shows
July 28, 2006
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter
Jimmy Buffett doesn't miss a beat. His impressive double DVD set "Live at Wrigley Field: The Labor Day Weekend Shows" (Mailboat,$24.98) hits the stores on Tuesday, four days before Parrotheads land at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.
Buffett is a master at marketing and he sure found a willing partner in the fantasy shop at Clark and Addison. A Buffett concert is more of a cultural event than it is about music. A Cubs game is more of a cultural event than it is about baseball.
Recorded last Labor Day weekend, "Live at Wrigley Field" is full of warm memories:
Like when the Cubs were a .500 team.
Disc 1 covers the Monday Labor Day matinee, the second disc features the Sunday night affair. Buffett played to sellouts of 39,500 at each of the historic concerts. I was at both shows and Sunday's was stronger. Buffett was clearly amped up, and I'll never forget the tender acoustic tribute he giftwrapped to late Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman by singing "City of New Orleans" from the right field bleachers, precisely where Goodman used to sit. That's another neat thing about "Live at Wrigley Field" for sentimentalists such as myself. (Tons of great footage shows the bleachers as they looked before their off-season expansion.)
Even the most cynical observer of a Buffett concert has to give the singer-songwriter props for impeccable pacing and production. Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band's searing version of "Southern Cross" is accented by stunning nighttime aerial views of Wrigley Field and "colorful" fans on the storied ballfield. Somewhere, Hack Wilson is smiling.
Buffett deployed a crew of 39 people to document the Labor Day weekend shows (the tag line from his hit "Come Monday") as well as six live recording technicians. Editing is superb and the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound was clear enough to make my neighbors turn up Moby.
"Live at Wrigley Field" comes in a thin book-size box with a booklet that features an essay in which Buffett explains his devotion to the Cubs -- even when the famous Floridian came to Wrigley in 2003 to cheer for the Cubs in their ill-fated National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.
It's doubtful anyone besides a Buffett fan will purchase "Live at Wrigley Field," which clocks in at 2 hours 45 minutes. Buffett's lackluster cover of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" definitely has a "you had to be there" quality on DVD, yet Mac McAnally's pop ballad "The City" has staying power as Buffett's crew captured glorious shots of Chicago, from Millennium Park to the Billy Goat Tavern.
The DVD's tip-in is the bonus features. "Time Lapse Load-In" clocks in at nearly eight minutes and it is fascinating to watch the stage set up at Wrigley Field over Buffett's studio versions of "Growin' Older But Not Up" (his homage to Pete Rose) and Buffett's 1986 Brazilian-tinged ballad "First Look."
A "Backstage"mini-documentary shows Buffett wandering around the ballpark and bumping into the ubiquitous Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers. Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukro performed the "Star-Spangled Banner" on Labor Day and his brilliant performance is a bonus track.
Time moves fast and Buffett is a time traveler. Labor Day weekend 2005 was on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, and the DVD reveals touching moments such as Parrotheads hoisting a huge New Orleans Jazz & Heritage flag, the mention of the firemen at the 78 Engine house (across the street from Wrigley's left field) raising money for hurricane victims, and Buffett auctioning off his autographed "Buffett" Cubs jersey on eBay to raise money for hurricane relief. That jersey sold for $17,000.
Understand that, watch "Live at Wrigley Field" and listen to the warmth of "Come Monday." You'll begin to understand the timeless joy of Jimmy Buffett. (Rating: ****)
Jimmy Buffett, 8 p.m. Aug. 5, Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park. The show is sold out.