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Buffett’s Last Performance was Two Months Ago in Rhode Island

September 7th, 2023

Jimmy Buffett’s last public performance was a surprise appearance at a Mac McAnally show on July 2nd at Sunset Cove in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. View the set list and scroll down to view photos and videos from the performance.

photo by Jim McGaw

From the Boston Globe: Jimmy Buffett’s final live show was a surprise performance at a Rhode Island restaurant

Jimmy Buffett was in Rhode Island just two months before his death, strumming his six-string guitar during the golden hour at a waterfront venue for 300 loyal fans — a surprise performance that would be his very last, and one that the restaurant’s owner and attendees will remember for a lifetime.

“Looking back, you can’t put a price on what it meant to the people that were here,” said Mike MacFarlane, owner of the waterfront café, who was celebrating his 50th birthday when Buffett decided to drop by.

Sunset Cove sold 300 tickets for the concert, and on the morning of the performance, McAnally got a FaceTime from Buffett, who was in Long Island “going stir crazy around the house.” He hadn’t performed in a while, and recently had to cancel a concert in South Carolina after being hospitalized in Boston.

“His doctors won’t let him tour right now,” MacFarlane recalled McAnally telling him at the time. “But he’s on the mend. He’s recuperating. He’s feeling good and wants to come up and do a few songs.”

At around 3 p.m., MacFarlane learned that Buffett was on his way to Middletown Regional Airport to perform at Sunset Cove.

MacFarlane was thrilled. He didn’t tell anyone.

“I said, ‘Listen. If we’re going to do this, let’s make sure all these people out here have the best day ever, that they are so surprised.’ We’re not going to let this leak, and we didn’t,” MacFarlane said.

MacFarlane and McAnally picked up Buffett, his daughter, and their pilot in Middletown, drove to the venue, and brought them backstage.

“They spent a little time catching up with Mac and tuning guitars and putting a little setlist together,” MacFarlane recalled.

The concert kicked off with one solo song from McAnally, before he rolled into Buffet’s “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.” When McAnally sang the lyrics “What would Jimmy Buffett do?” Buffett stepped onto the stage right on cue.

The crowd erupted with cheers.

“The moment was everything I could have hoped for, and then some,” MacFarlane said. “The wow-factor. The electricity. It’s hard to describe, other than truly amazing.”

Buffett performed between six and eight songs, and was on stage for about 45 minutes.

“His energy was great. His attitude was great. He sounded great … it just seemed like he had every intention of going back on the road some time this fall,” MacFarlane said.

Like so many others, MacFarlane was shocked by the news of Buffet’s death just a few months later.

“It was exactly 60 days prior that he stood on our stage, was backstage hanging out, having fun, laughing, and taking pictures with all of us,” he said. “It just meant so much to so many people.”

“Some of it magic and some of it tragic, as Jimmy would say,” he said.

photo by Jim McGaw

photo by Jim McGaw

photo by Sunset Cove

Tagged in Special Appearances