If you feel like some numbers, here are a few: Today is Bob Seger’s 66th birthday. Thursday night, he spent about 140 minutes (including a very brief intermission) performing 25 songs before roughly 11,000 fans at the Sprint Center.
He brought with him a four-piece horn section (the Motor City Horns), the six-piece Silver Bullet Band and three vocalists – enough fire power to deliver plenty of arena-size heft. He opened with “Roll Me Away,” a nearly 30-year-old song about escaping the straits of everyday life, even if briefly – something a rock show is supposed to help us do.
This one had its escapist moments. The large crowd responded to the first half almost piecemeal: Some songs provoked lots of noise and singing, like “Mainstreet,” “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and the first-set closers, “Travelin’ Man” and “Beautiful Loser.” But there were some lax moments, too.
The stage was practically barren. There was no video projection, no light show. Just Seger doing his yeoman best to stir up some enthusiasm, running back and forth, pumping his fist. Except for His voice sounded surprisingly strong – no less than it did his last performance here, at Kemper Arena in December 2006.
Except for sax man Alto Reed – his Clarence Clemons – who did some showboating, his supporting cast didn’t add much to the vibe. Their performance was brassy, clean and tight, but at times, some looked like they were going through some familiar motions. I guess you appreciate something most when it isn’t there, and this show could have used even some primitive video projection. Without it, the action on stage seemed static and remote.
The mood changed in the second set, when he sat at the piano and sang the saccharin love ballad “We’ve Got Tonight,” then the road-dog anthem “Turn the Page,” a song so good Metallica covered it.
The crowd lit into both songs, and Seger seemed to pick up on it. It helped that he had some of his best cards in hand, like “Katmandu,” which he and his band set afire, and “Night Moves,” which was rendered with a more soulful vibe.
He ended with “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” another song about the search for invigoration or redemption – for the spirit of lost youth.The song’s solution has been Seger’s since the mid-1960s: rock and roll. And on the last day of his 65th year, he proved that his faith in that solution is as strong as ever.
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; Night Moves; Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
|Timothy Finn, The Star