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Review of Private Houston Show

December 9th, 2010

Ken Hoffman of the Houston Chronicle attended Monday night’s private show for American Express platinum cardholders at the Toyota Center. In a review of the concert, he explains how it wasn’t your typical Buffett show. ” I’d never been to a rock show with commercial breaks before.”

American Express e-mailed two free tickets to local platinum-card holders as a thank-you for years of paying their bill on time. It was a very platinum-looking crowd, too, not Buffett’s regular throng of Hawaiian-shirt-wearing pretend beach bums and surfer girls.

When we entered Toyota Center, there was a sign, “Food and soft drinks are complimentary.” American Express picked up the bill for all the hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, soft drinks and pizza. I should have told Garfield to meet me in front of Toyota Center. Beer was not free. People in line at the concession stand ordered “two hot dogs (free), two hamburgers (free), three sodas (free), popcorn (free), peanuts (free) … and one beer ($7.50).” On average, it was a pretty good deal.

Buffett is a huge star, especially in Houston. If this were a normal concert, with normal ticket sales, the place would have been packed, every seat filled to the top row, front and back. American Express blocked off the entire upper deck and behind the stage Monday night. American Express gave away 7,500 tickets, hoping to present an intimate concert event.

There were empty seats throughout the lower bowl. Some rows, including mine, were less than half-filled. I figure maybe 6,000 people were inside the 19,000-capacity Toyota Center.

Buffett usually walks onstage without a formal introduction. The fans know who he is. Monday night, an American Express spokeswoman welcomed the crowd and introduced Buffett with a weird flowery speech and commercial for American Express.

Buffett opened with two songs from his country album, License to Thrill. Then he launched into a story about having lunch with his distant relative Warren Buffett – one of the few people in the world with more money than Jimmy Buffett. Jimmy said Warren told him that he judges America’s economic strength by how many people are paying for things with their American Express credit card. Buffett mentioned American Express throughout the concert.

He did everything but use an American Express credit card to slice and dice potatoes “faster than a food processor!”

There was no intermission, like a regular Buffett show. The fans didn’t know how to do “fins to the left, fins to the right,” during the closing song. And for his encore, he did a rocked-out Brown-Eyed Girl instead of an acoustic ballad.

There were no tables selling T-shirts in the lobby. I saw only one beach ball being batted about in the audience.

And Houston area parrotheads… Hoffman says that Buffett hinted that he’d be back in the Spring.

Tagged in Show Reviews, Special Appearances