One night, two concerts: REO Speedwagon vs. Jimmy Buffett
Seems like only yesterday you pulled on those navy blue corduroy pants, slipped that thick-toothed comb into the back pocket and scrounged around in the hamper until you found that glorious REO Speedwagon concert jersey. You know the one. Black sleeves, winged logo and that classic "81" on the back to signify that epic Hi Infidelity tour.
This coming week is an odd one here in Tampa Bay. No less than eight concerts are rolling through town. And on the night of April 25, fans will have to choose between REO Speedwagon (with Night Ranger as the opening act) and ... Jimmy Buffett?!?
Oh look, there's crazy Uncle Larry wearing a fake parrot on his sunburned head, chugging frozen margaritas while sliding around in a pool of his own vomit. Wait, it could be the vomit of Aunt Shirley next to him. Yeah, the passed-out lass with the grass skirt who was drinking tequila out of a shoe two minutes ago. Hopefully they'll still have money to pay the babysitter back home after making bail later that night.
Times film critic Steve Persall is defending Buffett over REO at his Reeling in the Beers blog, renamed in honor of the concert he's attending that no one will remember being at the next morning. In the meantime ...
TOP 5 REASONS REO RULES OVER BUFFETT:
5. BUFFETT HAS GROWN BORING: I'll always have a soft spot for many of Jimmy's tunes, but I'm long past worrying about cutting my heel on a pop-top and that damn missing shaker of salt. Plus, and I don't mean to sound trivial, Buffett's just a little "kountry" for me.
4. BUFFETT'S A CLOWN, NOT A CROONER: Buffett sorta slinks onstage, strums a little on a guitar, makes up new lyrics when the wind changes direction, grins and makes fin gestures. The crowd eats it up. Why? Well, the booze helps. A lot.
3. REO HAS THE ANTHEMS: Tough Guys, Roll With the Changes. And then the gold standard in power ballads, Keep on Loving You. Don't forget that with Night Ranger opening the show, you can add Sister Christian, Rock in America and Don't Tell Me You Love Me to the mix. You won't sit down the whole night. And unlike the Buffett concert, it won't be because someone urinated on your seat.
2. THE PERSON STANDING NEXT TO YOU: At the REO concert, it could be Janette, that girl you dated as a sophomore. Hey, she's still looking great, with that smoking-hot red hair. And you're both divorced now? Oh, this is gonna be great. Meanwhile, over at the Buffett concert, 20,000 people dressed in Hawaiian muumuus are brawling over the last lukewarm can of refreshment from the Zima vendor.
1. KARMA: REO Speedwagon doesn't have a world-renowned restaurant in its name. Some would say the same about Jimmy Buffett. Oh, Margaritaville serves up a mighty fine Catfish Reuben and the conch fritters aren't too bad. But is that all you want from your music hero? Me, all I want is the spine-tingling feeling of hearing that siren crank up for the start of Riding the Storm Out.
Sorry, Jimmy. Next time I have a beer buzz and the stomach rumblings, you're the man. Otherwise, I need REO Speedwagon to feed me.
-- REO Speedwagon with Night Ranger. Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $85.00, $49.75. (727) 791-7400. [Listen to our Kevin Cronin interview here.]
[Publicity, Times file photos]