On Saturday night in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, two of America’s greatest musical acts came together for one spectacular show under the stars, Florida’s adopted son Jimmy Buffett and The Eagles, Southern California’s rock royalty. Upon arrival outside the stadium, Buffett Parrotheads were tailgating and wearing their best Caribbean attire. From men wearing grass skirts to coconut shell bras and shark hats.
Opening the show was country pop newcomer Caroline Jones, who most recently has been opening for the Zac Brown Band and is now signed with Buffett on his Mailboat records. The talented Jones played for 30 minutes, remember her name, there is little doubt that you will hear more about this up and coming new singer. Her new album is called ‘Bare Feet’. Check it out!
Buffett took the stage around 7:00 with his large band including horn section. By this time Parrotheads were in full swing, up & dancing, tossing beach balls and there was a light smell of marijuana in the air. The beautiful breezy weather at the stadium set the stage for the feeling of being on a cruise ship on vacation. All the Buffett hits were on the set list including ‘Margaritaville’, ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’, ‘Son of a Son of a Sailor’, and his first hit from 1974, ‘Come Monday’. Jimmy Buffett is clearly here to have a good time! Buffett said, ‘Yea, we are camping out tonight’, referring to the stadium name. He tells a couple of stories, dances around in his bare feet (musta blew out his flip flops), and his set is one big sing-along for his fans. Buffett has created a powerful brand, Margaritaville restaurants, a Broadway show, best-selling books and who knows what else is to come, still all started with the music.
A little Buffett/Eagles trivia for you, the Eagles Timothy B. Schmit played with Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band from 1983-1985 and coined the phrase ‘Parrotheads’. There has been a longtime connection between the two artists who have played together occasionally as a double bill over the years. The Sun left the stadium with Buffett but his music takes you on vacation whether at the beach or in your mind.
The Eagles opened this show acoustically with their beautiful harmonies on “Seven Bridges Road”. Their silhouettes against the screen backdrop, you know you are in for something special. The first tour without co-founder, the late Glenn Frey, makes one wonder how this is going to go. It takes two to replace Glenn Frey, two very special people. Glenn’s 24-year-old son Deacon Frey and country superstar Vince Gill. Young Frey is the spitting image of his father from the early 70s, his sound is similar but yet his own. Vince Gill has a tone that is reminiscent of Glenn Frey, but he’s not trying to be Frey, he is simply honoring Glenn’s work.
The Eagles have never been one particular voice. Don Henley has provided vocals on many of the band’s hits and had his own solo career, then there’s Timothy B. Schmit bringing his soulful falsetto to beautiful ballads like ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’. The noise of 56,000 in the audience was down to a whisper during Schmit’s performances. Joe Walsh brings us rock, some incredible guitar solos and humor with songs like ‘Life’s Been Good’ and a James Gang classic with ‘Funk 49’.
The Eagles catalog is some of the most iconic music of our time. Instantly recognizable from the first note, the audience knew what was coming and was ready for it! Great lighting and cool tech graphics were all that was needed. The music speaks for itself, this is music written from the heart. From the tune that started it all written by Frey and Jackson Browne, ‘Take It Easy’ sung by Deacon, to Henley’s beautiful, haunting closing lyrics of ‘Desperado’, these songs stand the test of time and though we miss Glenn Frey, his legacy in music is secure. Walking out of the stadium, I thought of that famous lyric from Hotel California, after over 40 years of The Eagles music, ‘you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’.
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography