The Seger File

An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger
Last updated June 1999
Edited by Scott Sparling
sparling@segerfile.com


The 1996 Tour

Seger toured with an 11-piece band: Chris Campbell, bass, Alto Reed, saxophone, Craig Frost, keyboards, Tim Mitchell (from Gloria Estefan's band), lead guitar, Mark Chatfield, guitar, Tim Cashion, keyboards, Kenny Aronoff (from John Mellencamp's band), drums, Bill Payne (from Little Feat), keyboards, Shaun Murphy (from Little Feat), Karen Newman, and Laura Creamer, backup vocals.

The band rehearsed for 2 1/2 months.


Tim Cashion, 31, has toured with singer Robert Palmer and Latino-pop singer Jon Secada. He met Secada at the University of Miami music school and they worked together on jingles for commercials.

In fall 1995, his friend Tim Mitchell called, and Cashion flew to Detroit, auditioned, and joined the band.``While we've been rehearsing, I've been getting to stay at Bob's cabin out here in the woods. It's beautiful out here. And the cabin is great. I could deal with this for a while.'' Tommy Tomlinson, February 2, 1996, The Charlotte Observer. "Hometown boy makes music with Seger, other top rock performers."


After The Fire Inside album, the band started rehearsing for tour. "But everybody in my band was having kids: my bass player, my keyboard player, my sax player -- even my manager. So we didn't think it was a very good time to go out. " J. Freedom Du Lac, April 14, 1996, Sacramento Bee. "'It's a Mystery' no more: Seger's rockin' again."

"You can rehearse until you're blue in the face, but nothing is like getting on stage. It's louder, everything sounds different, it's hotter because of the lights, and the crowd adds a whole 'nother dimension." J. Freedom Du Lac, April 14, 1996, Sacramento Bee. "'It's a Mystery' no more: Seger's rockin' again."

"I'm carrying a treadmill with me this year, and I'm also doing two miles a day. I'm also doing some weight lifting" J. Freedom Du Lac, April 14, 1996, Sacramento Bee. "'It's a Mystery' no more: Seger's rockin' again."

"I'm 50 now and I don't think it's really possible anymore to do two and three nights in a row. So, 90% of the tour is going to be day on, day off. That way, I can preserve my voice." Jerry Crowe, January (?), 1996, Los Angeles Times. "Hitting the Road, Like a Rocker."


Punch Andrews: "When we started putting the tour together some promoters were a little gun shy, as it was. Hey, it was nine years since Bob toured," Andrews says. "What convinced them was Bob's 'Greatest Hits' performance on the Billboard 200. I'm quite sure we couldn't have put that tour together without that chart performance." Bob Talbert, March 16, 1997, Detroit Free Press. "Some good news, some bad news, for Bob Seger"


The Set List Discussed

Seger: "To a degree, I think that part of the reason why we stopped touring was because we couldn't play anything new. We looked forward to six or seven or eight songs a night, and the other stuff we had to keep playing. [In the early days, the other band members dictated what Seger and the band would play. Now, Seger seems to say it's the audience in control of what is played.]

"When we started rehearsals after eight years, all of it seemed fresh, so it's fun. We've got a whole new perspective on it. Even the old stuff sounds fun. But of course, it's really fun to play the new stuff. [In Portland, he played 5 songs from the 1990s].

"We're doing a little bit of everything. I wanted to do things people didn't expect. We do 'Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight' and people laugh. They hear 'Katmandu' and get a grin out of that. I'm just trying to surprise people a little bit -- not making just a greatest hits show, but saying, 'Hey, do you remember this?" Gary Graff, Detroit Free Press, Spring 1996


Regarding the mix of (mostly old) and (some) new songs, Seger said: "It is kind of a strange juxtaposition -- 'Revisionism Street' right next to 'Sunspot Baby' -- isn't it? They're so diametrically opposed in temperament. 'Revisionism Street' is angry and hostile in its subject matter, berating people like Kitty Kelly and Albert Goldman -- revisionistic authors who just do it for the buck. And 'Sunspot Baby' is totally lighthearted. 'She said she was going to visit sister Flo,' you know what I mean? It's kind of humorous and the crowd loves it and sings along. So it is a little bit funny in that regard. But it works." J. Freedom Du Lac, April 14, 1996, Sacramento Bee. "'It's a Mystery' no more: Seger's rockin' again."


To announce the tour, Seger played two-song set for reporters: "Lock & Load" from and "Hollywood Nights." He said the band prepared about 50 songs for the tour.

"We'll play what we want and if the young people like it, that's great. It's going to rock. We can't change who we are." David Lawder, Reuters, December 7, 1995


The Set List Presented

From the April 8, 1996 Rose Garden show in Portland, Oregon:

Roll Me Away
Lock and Load
Shakedown
Mainstreet
Old Time Rock & Roll
Come to Poppa
Hands in the Air
Which Way
The Mountain
Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight
Travelin' Man
Beautiful Loser
Like A Rock
It's A Mystery
We've Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Sunspot Baby
Horizontal Bop
Katmandu
 
Encores
Night Moves
Hollywood Nights
 
Against the Wind
Rock & Roll Never Forgets


The Set List Analyzed

What songs were played off which albums, you ask? Here's the complete analysis.

 

Back in '72 -- 1973
Turn the Page
 
Beautiful Loser -- 1975
Travelin' Man
Beautiful Loser
Katmandu
 
Night Moves -- 1976
Mainstreet
Sunspot Baby
Night Moves
Rock & Roll Never Forgets
Come to Poppa
 
Stranger in Town -- 1978
We've Got Tonight
Hollywood Nights
Old Time Rock & Roll
 
Against the Wind -- 1980
Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight
Horizontal Bop
Against the Wind
 
The Distance -- 1982
Roll Me Away
 
Like A Rock -- 1986
Like A Rock
 
(Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack) -- 1987
Shakedown
 
The Fire Inside -- 1991
Which Way
The Mountain
 
It's A Mystery -- 1995
Lock and Load
Hands in the Air
It's A Mystery
 
 
Total -- 12 from the 1970s
6 from the 1980s
5 from the 1990s


Bringing the Family

Seger's kids, Cole and Samantha, touring with him, attended shows wearing rifle headphones. "We put rifle headphones on 'em, which can knock down 30 dBs, and bring 'em right up on stage -- and they just grin away at Dad." Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant, Spring, 1996

"I made the decision to get a tour bus big enough for me and my family this time. I felt like I'd see them a lot more that way.'' Fred Shuster, February 2, 1996, Los Angeles Daily News, "Still the same enduring rocker Bob Seger finds a niche in the '90s"


Tour Notes

Seger was ill, and in fact had bronchitis, for the early part of the tour. "In New York I could hardly walk, much less sing...In Boston, I blew my nose for 30 hours straight -- I just stayed in my room and didn't answer the door." Kevin Ransom, March 7, 1996, The Detroit News. "With a family in tow, Seger turns the page on his ramblin days."

 

In Detroit, there was a minor media controversy stirred up by the fact that Seger played at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a half-hour or so northeast of the city, instead of at Cobo Hall, Joe Louis Arena, or even Tiger Stadium. A couple of sportswriters for the Detroit News -- Vartan Kupelian and Mike O'Hara -- speculated that perhaps Seger would tell the audience: "As I told everybody last night, I was reading in Rolling Stone where they said Auburn Hills audiences are the greatest rock and roll audiences in the world..." Vartan Kupelian and Mike O'Hara, November 19, 1995, Detroit News. "Seger show would be Palace coup."

 

The roughly 18,000 seats for Seger's March 10 show at the Palace sold out in three minutes. Five more shows were added and all but the last sold out immediately. "This is unprecedented. It's the most shows ever (at The Palace) by an artist during one tour," said Jeff Corey of The Palace. "We sold 100,000 tickets in the first hour. We've never done that before."

Punch Andrews: "I'm ecstatic. I'm shocked. I knew Detroit loved Bob Seger, but this is amazing...I was definitely nervous. You never know what's going to happen. It's been nine years. I would have been very, very happy with two or three shows, but this ... let's just say I'm very pleasantly surprised." Doug Durfee, February 11, 1996, The Detroit News. "Seger's back! And that's all you'll see if you don't have your ticket yet."

Only a few artists and bands have sold out Pine Knob in less than half an hour. In addition to Seger, others include Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band, The Who, and Shana Twain.


Thirsty for Seger

The opening night of the It's A Mystery tour made news in Amusement Business magazine -- for the concession stand sales. Regarding Seger's show in the North Charleston Coliseum show, on Jan 19, 1996, the magazine wrote: "Pretzel, popcorn and beer sales have never been as high except at Jimmy Buffet concerts and Eagles games." Ray Waddel, Feb. 5, 1996, Amusement Business. "Seger shows generate strong food sales."


A Review of the Reviews

From the review of the tour opening in Charleston, N.C. by Brian McCollum, January 20, 1996, Detroit Free Press. "Seger returns to the stage: Don't put the old rocker on the shelf."

McCollum gave the tour opener 3 out of 4 stars:

"For Seger, who finished off 'Roll Me Away' with one of the most genuine 'thank yous' you'll ever hear come from a stage, the return was a triumph...Seger's task on this tour is clear: deliver his familiar catalog of classic-rock hits without bogging down in maudlin -- and embarrassing -- nostalgia. In other words, avoid looking washed up.

"...[Seger] gracefully tread the line between sentimentality and giddy rock 'n' roll energy...Seger sounded confident and robust....Tunes from Seger's latest studio outing, It's a Mystery, were refreshingly beefed up....The crowd greeted the new material with respectful attention, but nobody was kidding anybody:...the fans came to get their $30 of Seger standards....

"...If Friday night's show is any clue, hometown fans should rest easy."

Seger played five new songs at the Charleston show: Lock and Load, I Wonder, Hands in the Air, It's a Mystery, Revisionism Street.


From the review by Calvin Gilbert, January 26, 1996, Nashville Banner. "Seger uses 'night moves' to wow crowd."

"Rock 'n' roll doesn't require sophistication. In its finest moments, however, it demands honesty...there are many who may think Seger is old-fashioned or over the hill, but he turned in an honest night's work Thursday...Seger's voice remains as strong as he remains faithful to the music.

"Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Seger's concert was his attitude...Seger wore a huge grin throughout Thursday's concert, seemingly jubilant to be singing with his band -- and enjoying the roar of [the crowd]." Calvin Gilbert, January 26, 1996, Nashville Banner. "Seger uses 'night moves' to wow crowd."

[Thanks to Arthur Tressler for a copy of the review.]


From the review by Ted Fry, April 1996, Seattle Times. "Seger's old-time rock 'n' roll."

"With a gleeful smile, fists pumping triumphantly to the beat and a bit of paunch hanging over his black jeans, Seger needn't have worried when he introduced each number with a, 'Hope you like it!' or a 'Hope you remember this one!'"


The Palace

Referring to March shows at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Seger said: "We're ready for Detroit. I think we're right on the edge of where we want to be...I told [Punch], 'If you don't film and record this, you're crazy, because we're peaking.' And that can change later. You go through hills and valleys on these things." Brian McCollum, March 8, 1996, Detroit Free Press. "Detroit Never Forgets."

From the review of the Auburn Hills concert by Kevin Ransom, March 12, 1996, The Detroit News. "Seger's new bandmates energize the old rocker's hometown return."

"Seger once remarked that he was bored with his old songs. But the layoff seems to have energized him and his band. After a brilliant set by opening act John Hiatt, Seger and Co. attacked the old standbys with vigor and verve...Drummer Kenny Aronoff (from John Mellencamp's band) propelled these blasts from Seger's past into the present with his tireless, rock-ribbed locomotion. And guitarist Tim Mitchell added grit and bravura to Seger's crowd-pleasers with snarling, brass-knuckled riffs and note-shredding solos...saxman Alto Reed's elbow-in-the-ribs showboating is really wearing thin.

"...What Seger's audience responds to, of course, is his heart -- and to the honesty and simplicity of his blue-collar ethic."


From a review of the same concert by Brian McCollum, March 11, 1996, Detroit Free Press. "Hometown boy rocks the house."

McCollum gave Seger's first show at the Palace of Auburn Hills four out of four stars:

Seger opened with "Roll Me Away." McCollum wrote, "the soaring, driving slice of rock that drove the bouncing crowd into immediate ecstasy."

The show featured "Seger's pumping fists and sweat-soaked face, and the voice -- that voice, as familiar to these fans as a mother's whisper...the explosive bottom end laid down by drummer Kenny Aronoff and bassist Chris Campbell, who locked in for fiery catharsis on tunes such as 'Travelin' Man' and 'Lock and Load.'"

"Crowds at Bob Seger shows across the country sing along to 'Old Time Rock & Roll.' Crowds at Bob Seger shows in Detroit sing along to everything...except when Seger plodded early in the show through a questionable stretch of rarely heard tunes...yawners from the recent 'It's a Mystery' and 'The Fire Inside.'"


From the review by Mike Joyce, Washington Post, "Bob Seger"

"He's 50 now, a family man who's grown a little paunchy, but he still knows how to make a crowd jump to its feet and scream for more."

"He wisely played down his current and mediocre album...the new tunes were strictly filler."

"When he stood atop one of the risers flanking the stage, punching the air in sync with the rhythms, he seemed genuinely moved by the music again and inspired by the band."

"Aronoff gave the music an enormous lift and kick."


From the review by Steve Appleford, April 20, 1996, L.A. Times. "Still the Same Bob Seger?"

"On Thursday, Seger spent most of the two-hour concert with his fist thrust dramatically in the air..."

"While many rockers culled from his new 'It's a Mystery' album captured some of the old volume and rowdiness, they were too often based on uninspired melodies...Not even Seger's longtime saxman, Alto Reed, wading through the crowd in his leather pants and mutton chops, could bring any fire to the likes of 'Rite of Passage' and other new numbers...Far more satisfying was when Seger...picked up an acoustic guitar to perform 'By the River'...


From the review by Adam Sandler, April 18, 1996, Variety. "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band"

"Bob Seger poured every ounce of energy into his performance at the Forum as he scampered across the stage, often piercing the air with his fist to punctuate the beats of his solid rock 'n' roll tunes...

"...longtime saxman Alto Reed...created a show-within-a-show by aggressively working the crowd...

"Clearly the best received of the new tunes was 'By the River,' a powerful ballad crafted by Seger as an homage to his son Cole. Though the material is not likely to be widely embraced by radio in this era of fractionalized playlists, it nonetheless demonstrated Seger still has the touch."


 
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