The Seger File An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated April 2002 Edited by Scott Sparling firstname.lastname@example.org
The 1986-87 Tour
The American Storm Tour began July 16, 1986 in Savannah, Georgia after three weeks of rehearsals. The tour lasted almost nine months and included 106 shows. It closed in Detroit, at Joe Louis Arena on March 19, 1987 .
In addition to the Silver Bullet band, musicians included Rick Vito from Fleetwood Mac, Bill Payne from Little Feat and Crystal Taliefero from John Mellencamp's band. All together, Seger had a 10-piece band with up to a three-piece horn section, up to six keyboard players, four guitarists or eight vocalists. Even with that much diversity, there were still some songs he felt they couldn't perform live -- "Miami," for example.
Seger himself rarely played instruments. "A couple times on 'Turn the Page' I let Bill Payne play the piano and I just sang. That drove me crazy -- six minutes full of ballad and nothing else to do with my hands! But I'm getting used to it." Gary Graff, August 28, 1986, Detroit Free Press. "Will Storm Signal an End to Touring?"
"They start planning the tour, saying 'we gotta leave this many dates open for this city, this many dates for that one.' I say 'Do you really think they'll come back? It's been three years.' And they say, 'Yes Bob, they will.' And they're always right. So what do I know, huh?" Gary Graff, May 4, 1986, The Detroit Free Press. "The rock of rock."
"I bought a house 16 months ago. I've lived in it for less than a month. I figure this album [Like A Rock] alone is an 18 month project -- 10 in the studio, eight on the road...
"Then after you finish the U.S., other countries want you. I've had three No. 1 albums in Australia and never toured. It just keeps stretching out." David Hinkley, September 21, 1986, New York Daily News. "On the Never-Ending Road Again."
"You're always out longer than you plan. You schedule a show, the promoter wants a double. Or a triple. To me, triples are just greed. But I also refuse to go the other way, which is stadiums. I won't put an audience through that..."
He will also only play 4 shows a week. "I don't want the person paying $18 a ticket to be hearing my voice try to do a fifth." David Hinkley, September 21, 1986, New York Daily News. "On the Never-Ending Road Again."
Seger: "We even dropped 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.' Finally. You take a chance when you do that, but it's also a relief, because you can get so locked into what you have to do, it's like you're a prisoner of your own material. After a while, you don't want to play certain songs. There isn't any challenge left in it." David Hinkley, September 21, 1986, New York Daily News. "On the Never-Ending Road Again."
"Check out the tape at the intermission of this show. I did the whole thing myself -- which is real power, by the way. It starts with the Drifters and the rest is almost all Phil Spector. Man, you'll get more castanets than you've ever heard in your life. It's beautiful. And powerful." David Hinkley, September 21, 1986, New York Daily News. "On the Never-Ending Road Again."
THE LAST TOUR?
Seger called the 86-87 tour: "For all intents and purposes, probably the last big tour...I have a responsibility to my band and my manager. The band doesn't quite make as much money as I do, so I'm thinking, one more for them, so they're set, y'know? But I never say never. I could split now, but I'm more or less the cash register. So we'll do another big one, and after that, I'm basically not promising anything. I'm more or less doing this for the fans and the band, because they make most of their money when we're on tour." Roy Trakin, Creem, 1987?
"I'm committed to these guys who have been with me for a long time [Silver Bullet members]. I told them they're going to make a large amount of money on this tour and that I don't want them counting on another one. I have to have that option." Gary Graff, August 28, 1986, Detroit Free Press. "Will Storm Signal an End to Touring?"
"I want to song-write, and I want to make records, but touring is just this eight-month gap where you can't do anything but sit in hotel rooms and go through the motions. Living in hotels is a drag. I despise it...Just about every other night, at some point in the show a little voice comes up and says, 'Why are you doing this?' So that's the bottom line -- I'm sick of doing it. And as long as it takes me to make a record, well, there just isn't enough time left in life to tour." Joanne Zangrilli, Goldmine, November 1990.
"It is physically very tiring. It takes me hours to unwind following a performance. I go back to the hotel and can't sleep." Marty Racine, 1986, Houston Chronicle, 1986. "Bob Seger, Back on the Road Again"
"We figured this is probably the last [tour], so let's play the songs we like, the ones that are fun. They've heard all those other ones before. So a lot of the hits aren't in there, like "Against the Wind, and 'Fire Lake' and 'Shame on the Moon'...
"Plus, I don't like long shows, never have. It gets old after a certain point. You want it to be compact and tight, leave 'em wanting more. If you play everything they know, you're doing yourself and your audience a disservice." Gary Graff, August 28, 1986, Detroit Free Press. "Will Storm Signal an End to Touring?"
Seger asked Punch to tape one of his 1986 shows at Boston Garden, but Punch couldn't find a crew on short notice.
Punch told a reporter after the show: "I'd better get out of here because Bob is going to kill me when he finds out. God, I wish we could have gotten this on tape. We could have gotten some magic. The crowd was just unbelievable. And from the very first moment he came on stage, you could tell it was going to be electric." Steve Morse, Boston Globe, October 3, 1986. "Electric' is the only word for Seger."
The 1986-87 tour included 105 shows over nine months. Seger played before nearly 1.5 million fans and grossed $5 million.
Bandana from the American Storm tour.
They'll Never Be in The Arena, But They Get to Write the Reviews
From Gary Graff's review of the tour opener in Savannah, as it appeared in the, July 18, 1986, Detroit Free Press: "Bob Seger still packs an electrifying punch."Campbell: "We were scared, though it was nothing more than being off for more than three years and hitting the stage again."
Reed: "I was yelling into (Campbell's) ear all night, 'I love this!'"
The set list was "mostly a celebration of Seger's career since 1976"
Seger cut the encore's -- Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight and Fortunate Son, due to time restrictions at the arena.
Included, It's You, Miami, Turn the Page, and Yesterday Rules, a dramatic love song written for Back to the Future.
From the review of the second show of the tour in Charlotte, N.C. by Anne Ayers, Summer 1987, USA Today. "Seger storms back with rousing tour.""He could have sung Three Blind Mice and the adoring audience would have cheered him on."
From the review by Lawrence Toppman, July 19, 1986, The Charlotte Observer. "Bob Seger plays the Charlotte Coliseum.""We old-timers prefer...rock `n` rollers who can go the distance, straining with every ounce of energy from wire to wire...
...his biggest ovation came on 'Turn the Page,' the oldest song he did Friday.
Seger has a hard time topping his studio performances, which hold nothing back...
'Night Moves' seemed perfunctory after a tiring two-hour set.
Seger and a couple of others, gray-bearded and white-jacketed, look as if they could audition for the father on 'Family Ties.'
These old pros make no mistakes: Seger writes songs suited to his gravel-in-the-craw voice and sings with urgency, and his 10-piece group fills in every inch of background without overshadowing him....No rocker has better captured the exultant glory of being 18 ("Like a Rock") or the uncertainty of being 38 ("Against The Wind").
His roots are the very roots of rock `n` roll, and he and the band play as if the future of that art depended on their forging an unbreakable link with its past."
In the early portion of the tour, writer Ken Tucker reported that Seger would "rather concentrate on performing lively versions of songs that are still reasonably fresh to him. Too many performers fall into the greatest-hits trap -- feeling obliged to play every successful song they ever recorded -- and it is both nervy and admirable of Seger to make a break with this practice." Ken Tucker, October 26, 1986, Philadelphia Inquirer, "Remembering the early Seger sound."
[What concerts was he at? When I saw Seger, the set list was practically all hits. He also reports that Seger was born in Ann Arbor. But he redeems himself by mentioning"Leaning on My Dream" as one of Seger's classics.]
Frankie Miller, the Scottish rock and roller that Seger has long admired, opened the show in Philadelphia.
Anti-Seger critic Harry Sumrall made short work of Seger's show in Oakland, as follows:"His show at the Oakland Coliseum Arena Wednesday before a delirious capacity crowd...was a reminder of the decline of another great American institution, rock 'n' roll. In the hands of performers like Seger, rock has been transformed from a strapping, two-toned, gloriously garish DeSoto into a nondescript K-car. Like Lee Iacocca, Seger is first-rate at selling his product, fully equipping it with all the right touches of Americana. But the product itself is a boring heap." Harry Sumrall, January 16, 1987, San Jose Mercury News. "Cliches."
[Boring, except to the delirious capacity crowd, I guess.]
For the Florida stop, the show was started by the only singer-writer-performer I know who might be an equal to Seger: Steve Earle. Their styles are different, so who knows how they meshed. I usually don't listen to Exit 0 or I Feel Alright on the same days I listen to Seger. But I would have liked to have been there. There's no performer more authentic, more passionate than Earle, and seeing them together would have been heaven.
Linda Thorton of the Miami Herald was there. Her review says nothing about Earle...but she sure made it sound like a great show. "At times, the roar of the crowd must have been heard miles away....Unless you were in the higher rows, it was nearly impossible to see the performers over the wall of people standing on their chairs." Linda R. Thornton, December 1, 1986, Miami Herald. "Seger's a smash, 'Like a Rock'"
More from the review by Linda R. Thornton, Miami Herald. December 1, 1986. "Seger's a Smash, 'Like a Rock'""If Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band didn't shake loose the rafters at the Hollywood Sportatorium, nothing would.
"The Michigan-born rocker hadn't released an album for three years prior to this year's Like A Rock. But as the hard-working Seger and band punched out a rollicking set of mostly upbeat, get-down rock and roll Friday night, the wildly enthusiastic Sportatorium crowd proved that Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
"The band's performance Friday was so fine -- polished and close to the original recordings, yet refreshing and inspiring -- that a great live album could have been recorded that night."
From the review by Michael Snyder, January 16, 1987, San Francisco Chronicle. "Bob Seger Can't Shake His Past."Seger "pulled enough sure shots from his 15 album song book to overcome some of the lackluster material cluttering the recent phases of his career."
"Truth to tell, the compact, bearded singer...didn't disappoint the people crammed into the Oakland Coliseum for two shows this week...but his recent work, with the exception of a simple, powerful declaration of self and loyalty, 'Like a Rock,' is sadly derivative stuff....''Roll Me Away' is a standard rock hymn to freebooting on the open highway. His earlier 'Travelin' Man' is a more thunderous, memorable manifesto to the untamed macho spirit (as though we needed one). "
"'Turn the Page' is "a hackneyed, lonely-star-on-the-road tune."
The intimacy of some of the songs "would have been better served by a less awesome setting...maybe Seger would benefit from being less popular." Snyder criticized the "two former members of the lumpen hard-rock band, Grand Funk Railroad (Frost and Brewer)...Breeding will tell."
From the review by Steve Morse, Boston Globe, October 3, 1986. "Electric' is the only word for Seger.""Seger's largely new, 10-member band erased any doubts that it could rock as mightily as the old five-piece Silver Bullet Band with Drew Abbott on guitar. Frankly, this writer had his own doubts after seeing the new band recently on a fairly sluggish night in Louisville, Ky., but there will be no more dissension from this quarter -- not after last night.
"A key difference was that percussionist-saxophonist-backup singer-sparkplug Crystal Talofiero was back in the lineup after a spell of illness. She banged away on congas as if her life depended on it, then picked up a sax and gave Seger's longtime sax sidekick, Alto Reed, a run for it. The two of them -- situated on opposite ends of the multilevel stage -- were like twin turbos lifting the band whenever there was a moment's faltering. And there weren't many of those, not when Rick Vito heated up his slide guitar, not when keyboardists Craig Frost and Bill Payne played what Seger calls "animal grooves," and not when ex-Grand Funk member Don Brewer thundered on drums." Steve Morse, Boston Globe, October 3, 1986. "Electric' is the only word for Seger."
From the review by Marty Racine, 1986, Houston Chronicle, 1986. "Bob Seger, Back on the Road Again""We're playing a lot of songs we've never played onstage, stuff we never played off Night Moves, for example."
"Playing this music is so hard, your legs get tired, your arms get tired, but I have to go hard every show. But I can take a day off, whereas back (in the 70s) I never had the luxury of doing that. It's much better now."
From the review by Lisa Robinson, September 24, 1986, New York Post. "Hard work is Bob Seger's System.""Bob Seger...is considered one of the most down-to-earth, decent, loyal musicians in rock music."
From the review by Stephen Holden, September 25, 1986, New York Times. Rock: Bob Seger Concert"At a time when rock music is being attacked from many sides as a demonic force in American society, Mr. Seger stands as a reassuring reminder that the music can also be as wholesome as apple pie without seeming wishy-washy."
Seger is "a walking dictionary of classic 1950's and 1960's rock and soul influences, animated by his personal enthusiasm for the good old days and by an embracing friendliness that transcends the normal barriers between rock performer and audience.
"Mr. Seger has forged the harshly exuberant bark of early soul giants like Little Richard and Wilson Pickett and the softer, folk-influenced concept of musical narration into a hearty declamatory style that lends itself as readily to ballads as to stomping uptempo rockers.
"The music made almost no concessions to the synthesizer technology that is slowly but surely rendering this brand of 'old time rock-and-roll' obsolete.
"Mr. Seger's great bear-hug of a voice, with its raw edges and warm center, was in top-notch condition on Tuesday."
From the review by David Hinckley, September 25, 1986, New York Daily News. "No.1 With A Silver Bullet."Hinckly was impressed by Seger's "...consistent ability to remind a crowd, even one that wants to boogie in the aisles, that everything is not all right in most lives."
From the review by Robert Hillburn, January 7, 1987, Los Angeles Times. "Seger Offers New Reasons to Believe."Seger played for two hours "with blistering determination."
"You never get the feeling that he accepts the fact that his best show may be behind him."
He "still exhibits the intensity and celebration on stage of a musician who is just beginning to explore his rock and roll dreams."
Veteran rock performers like Seger "can't simply play the old songs well: at some point in the night, they've got to give the audience new reasons to believe in them if the concerts are to avoid becoming merely exercises in nostalgia."
"'Night Moves' and 'Against the Wind' are heartfelt expressions of the search for innocence and integrity in a world where both qualities seem in short supply."
"Seger's band is his most explosive yet."
"The heart of the concert boiled down to a couple of key numbers -- times when Seger reached out with a song and a vocal intensity that gave the night its own individual edge."
"The first was 'Like a Rock,'...about remembering lost idealism and trying to recapture it, and Seger sang it with the soft, yet determined grace of a man giving thanks for his own convictions, yet aware of the dangers that allow them to slip away."
"The answers about life that once seemed so clear in rock's infancy have proven more complex. This is the first generation of rockers to realize that."
From the review by John Mackie, 1987, Vancouver (Canada) Sun (?). "Beltin' Bob gives the fans a party.""Say what you will about his music, Seger puts on a first rate show, energetic, dynamic and musically tight. He's in great shape for someone who's nearly 42, clapping his hands, shadow boxing and dancing away like a man half his age...the consummate rock and roll pro."
From concert notes by Gary Graff, August 28, 1986, Detroit Free Press. "Tour notes/celebrity sit-ins."Don Henley joined Seger on stage in Dallas Nov. 9-11 for "Miami" and "Feel Like a Number."
At the LA Forum in January,the guest list included O.J. Simpson, Roy Orbison, Warren Zevon and Jane Fonda.
"John Cougar Mellencamp showed up at the Sept. 6-7 shows in Indianapolis."
Bob Dylan, Ronnie Hawkins and Otis Clay caught Seger's show at Maple Leaf Gardens Oct. 23-25.
Bob Dylan joined Seger onstage for the encore at Pine Knob outside Detroit, in July 1986.
Seger and Henley onstage together in Dallas. Photo by Steve Vanghel.
From the review by Eddie Huffman, July 1987, Greensboro Spectator"His latest album, Like a Rock and his coliseum show indicate that he has lost the ambition to be a truly moving performer, settling instead for predictable arena theatrics. (And he needs to strap on a guitar now and then, even if he doesn't play it.)"
From the coverage of the tour's last show by Gary Graff, March 12, 1987, Detroit Free Press. "Seger wraps up nine months of playing on the road again."After the final show in Detroit, Seger said: "I have to admit that the reception we've gotten on the whole tour has gotten me to the point where, if I can muster another really good album out of myself, I would probably go out and do it again."
Said Alto Reed: "That man has too much energy, too much talent, too many stories left to tell. There's a relationship with his audience that is not going to fade away." Gary Graff, March 12, 1987, Detroit Free Press. "Seger wraps up nine months of playing on the road again."
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