On the eve of his 66th birthday, frontman Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band performed to about 10,000 loyal fans at the Sprint Center Thursday night, the fifth of May. The venue, which seats about 17,000, was surprisingly light considering Seger is most likely making his last go-round before hanging up the microphone for good; perhaps the low attendance was due to the Moody Blues playing the Midland Theater just a short distance away. Half of the upper deck was cordoned off by curtains, and even then it was probably only a quarter full. But those in attendance should consider themselves lucky, as Seger rocked and rolled his way through 25 songs in about two hours.
Seger came on stage dressed modestly in black t-shirt and jeans, and wasted little time starting the show off right. The opener, “Roll Me Away,” demanded the audience’s immediate attention, and encouraged what would be a night of serenading and dancing. Next came a string of sing-alongs, with “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “The Fire Down Below,” “Mainstreet,” and “Old Time Rock n’ Roll,” played in succesion. Most artists would have trouble banging out four consecutive hits so early in the show, but for Seger, it was just his way of getting warmed up.
Seger is one of the very few who can get away with the cliche. Most of his songs are about love – more bad than good – and the ones that aren’t are classic rock anthems that don’t require much dissection or understanding; just a lot of fist pumping. He does it so well, with so much exuberance, enthusiasm and passion, that no one seems to care how basic some of his lyrics are; in fact, most love it and attach themselves to it as if Seger wrote the song for the sole listener. Basic, done right, can cut straight to the heart and core purely because it is so relatable to so many people. He is one of the greatest song-writers for being able to walk that line as well as he does.
He made sure to highlight his band many times, often placing himself to the side of the stage at the end of the song so he could give them their credit. Alto Reed, his saxophonist with the most perfect stage name ever, got plenty of chances to shine, most notably on “Turn the Page,” which also brought on the loudest sing-along of the night. That song is another lyrical feat; not too many artists can make an audience sympathize with the life of a traveling musician, but that is what “Turn the Page” accomplishes.
His setlist has not varied much this tour, but he did have one surprise up his sleeve for the die-hards, and that was “Long Twin Silver Line,” a song from his Against the Wind album that Seger said he had never played live before, and afterwards exclaimed, “I can’t believe I remembered the words!” “We’ve Got Tonight,” and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” Seger’s first single from 1968, were also highlights that got the crowd moving.
The main set ended with “Katmandu,” after which Seger and his 15-piece band took their bows. He would come back on for two encores, which contained “Against the Wind,” “Hollywood Nights,” “Night Moves,” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” After he sang all he had to sing, he waved goodbye to the crowd for the final time, and exited stage left.
Sweet 16 may have turned 31 – or 66, but who’s counting – by the end of the night, but for over two hours, Seger made everyone in the house forget the world outside, and feel a little younger too.
Setlist: Roll Me Away; Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You; The Fire Down Below; Mainstreet; Old Time Rock and Roll; Downtown Train; Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man; Real Mean Bottle; Good For Me; Shinin’ Brightly; Travelin’ Man; Beautiful Loser. Intermission. Nutbush City Limits; Come to Papa; Her Strut; Long Twin Silver Line; We’ve Got Tonight; Turn the Page; Sunspot Baby; Horizontal Bop; Katmandu. Encore: Against the Wind; Hollywood Nights. Encore 2: Night Moves; Rock and Roll Never Forgets.