MANSFIELD -- Jimmy Buffett played Fenway Park last summer and remains buzzed by the experience. ''I'm still not over Fenway, I'll admit it," Buffett happily told close to 20,000 Parrotheads last night at the Tweeter Center.
Buffett is preparing a DVD of the Fenway shows to release for Christmas -- and he said before last night's gig that he was approached to play Fenway again this year, but opted to play in ballparks in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Those dates are later this summer, so he flip-flopped his Boston-area appearances from the usual Labor Day week to this week.
''I know we've thrown off some of your clocks, but what the hell, we're here to rock!" he said to the hula-skirted, shark-finned multitudes who were only too happy to have him back at the Tweeter Center where, unlike Fenway, they can tailgate without restriction.
Buffett marked his Tweeter return with a more unpredictable show than usual. He could safely breeze by and sing his beach-troubadour songs ad infinitum at this point. But to his credit, he made an attempt to stay current with two surprise covers by younger songwriters -- ''Trippin Billies" by the Dave Matthews Band and ''The Horizon Has Been Defeated" by Hawaiian surf-folkie Jack Johnson. He also brought out ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro (who lives in Hawaii and is of Japanese heritage) to play ''The Star-Spangled Banner" and join on ''Trippin Billies" and ''A Pirate Looks at 40."
Buffett also dug out some of his more obscure songs such as ''Caroline Street" and ''Ragtop Day" to buttress more familiar crowd-pleasers from ''Cheeseburger in Paradise" to ''One Particular Harbour." He also added a video segment of highlights from his Johnny Carson ''Tonight Show" appearances (nine of them), while overlaying commentary of once running into Carson on a marina in Belize. In another change of pace, he sang James Taylor's ''Lighthouse" and showed video footage of the Tweeter parking lot fans (''This is still the greatest parking lot in Parrothead land," he said) singing a crazed, spontaneous version of ''Why Don't We Get Drunk" during the afternoon.
The show was more off-the-wall than usual -- and featured more tropical theatrics from his backup singers and dancers -- but it also demonstrated that Buffett continues to update his act.