Bob Knoblock Photo
DETROIT -- "Soooo lonnng!!!" Bob Seger bellowed at the conclusion of his Saturday show at Cobo Arena.
It was the last performance of Seger's triumphant "Face the Promise" comeback tour, and, possibly, the last concert he'll ever give.
If it was Seger's last show (and I don't think it was), the iconic Michigan rocker went out the way he wanted - on a very high note.
He brought his buddy Kid Rock out for a rousing version of "Real Mean Bottle," dusted off a few songs and turned what could have been a very emotional night into a workman-like two-hour and 15-minute blowout of a performance.
The 61-year-old Seger told The Journal last week that Saturday's show "could be it," his last concert ever, though the chances are 50-50 he'll return at some point, possibly as early as June for a six-city tour of Canada and the upper Midwest.
Longtime keyboardist and Flint native Craig Frost admitted he didn't know what the boss would do, but welcomed a break from a tour that was supposed to last six weeks but turned into a 41/2-month victory lap.
"I'm a little burned out," Frost, the former Grand Funk Railroad keyboardist, confessed at an after-show party next door at Joe Louis Arena. The party was attended by more than 400 people, including Kid Rock, flanked by bodyguards, and former bandmate Uncle Kracker, who got the pre-show party started (on St. Patrick's Day, no less) with a pumped-up half-hour set.
The real party was on stage, where a large camera crew recorded Seger's every fist pump, nicotine wail and toothy smile as a full house of nearly 13,000 faithful cheered on their local hero. Seger responded with the kind of driving celebration of his legacy and his rock, blues and soul roots on which he built his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reputation over the past 40 years.
It was a pretty straightforward performance. He never acknowledged that it was St. Patty's Day, wearing his customary black T-shirt and blue jeans (though many in the crowd sported green). He didn't offer any updates on the Michigan State-North Carolina basketball game (MSU lost).
In fact, his only sports reference was to his beloved Detroit Pistons, whose 38-5 start last season inspired the new song "Simplicity," one of the few weak links in the chain Saturday night. But he did dedicate "Old Time Rock & Roll" to his daughter's piano teacher, dedicated the rarely performed "Good for Me" to his wife of 19 years, Nita, and dusted off "Still the Same" in tribute to his loyal fans.
Looking a good 15 pounds lighter than he did at The Palace in December - in all, Seger played 10 shows in Michigan on this tour, seven in metro Detroit - and with his gray hair freshly trimmed, Seger offered up his standard show in the first half.
New songs "Wreck This Heart," "Face the Promise" and "Wait For Me" have gotten better and better live. They held their own with time-honored chestnuts like "Turn the Page" (on which the crowd turned into a 13,000-voice choir). The dynamic "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser" medley, was a high point and a throwback to "Live Bullet," the breakthrough concert album recorded at Cobo 32 years ago and the reason he was back here for the last two shows of the tour.
He mixed things up more in the second, more rewarding, half. There were rowdier than normal versions of "Horizontal Bop" (complete with Alto Reed's grin-inspiring sax theatrics) and "Katmandu," another "Live Bullet" staple revived for this tour. The real treat for hardcore fans was a punchy, horn-driven update of "Nutbush City Limits," the Ike and Tina Turner song that opened "Live Bullet."
The second set's country-tinged midsection was replaced by a pounding "The Fire Down Below," and "Good for Me," a forgotten gem from "Against the Wind" that put a winded Seger back behind the piano, buttressed by the soulful harmonies of backup singers Laura Creamer, Shaun Murphy and Barb Payton.
The Silver Bullet Band, numbering up to 14 members on some songs, was very much a well-oiled machine, with particularly strong contributions from the four-man Motor City Horns, whose role has grown over the tour, the steady pounding presence of Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer (like Frost a Flint native) and guitarist Mark Chatfield, whose piercing solos were particularly sharp Saturday.
Almont resident Joe Dogan said it was worth the $360 he paid an online ticket broker so he and his wife, Maryann, could see what could go down as Seger's last concert.
"I don't think he could've done it any better," Dogan said, "plus, I'll get to see it on DVD."
Seger summed it up best after a raucous version of "Old Time Rock & Roll."
"This is the way to end the tour right here," he said, shooting his fists into the air.
WOW!!!! I decided to take the plunge one last time, one last hurrrah, for the sake of Bob and the Band and a lifetime of irreplaceable memories, and this concert was mindblowingly the best show I have ever seen anywhere anytime.
This was the best of the five I saw, and the others were probably the best I had ever seen to that point. I would put Vegas at number two, followed by Toronto, Palace # 2 and Chicago, although of the last three I really don't know which was better. Each was a special show in their own way. Anyway, I braved an ill timed snowstorm, and luckily got off the ground from Montreal for the cause, and the cause was with me all the way. I made it!!!! And Oh Boy! was COBO special, this was the one, and you always know that there is ONE out there, and this was it. What a send-off, what a way to say goodbye.
You could just feel LIVE BULLET oozing out of that building, the history. It was like being in some great historic American institution, a shrine to a simpler time of the greatest rock 'n' roll, and at times, as I walked around the inside I thought to myself it seemed more like an old, old school or even a prison with all that concrete, emptiness, and even wire fences in places.
It just had that old feel of when rock' n' roll really was, innocent, raw and pure, and genuine, just like Seger, and just like this last final triumph of his. I was cracking up because, instead of maybe some nice concession stands that you might find at one of the newer, larger stadiums, like say the Palace, or some great new hockey arena, for the most part, the beer was being sold out of plastic recycle style tubs and cardboard boxes from the middle of the floors in the hall way, and then I thought to myself, man, I really have arrived!!!! The MECCA COBO.
This was the best set list I had come across of the five shows I saw, expanded to 26 songs, and tweaked just about as right as you could get, 2 hours and 20 minutes of as pure rock and roll energy as you will ever see. Out, was Night Moves in the first encore, but in, and dedicated to all of us diehard fans was Still the Same, the first time I had heard that live since 1980 and it was great, an old friend.
Out, was The Answers in the Question, but in its place, and dedicated to his wife and all the band's husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, was the song Good For Me from the Against the Wind album. If I had had to pick one more song for Bob to play I would never have even thought of or picked that one, not because it isn't a good song, just not a great one, and there are so many others to choose from. BUT, when Bob started singing, I realized that something pretty unique was happening, I sat back with complete admiration and thought, MY God, I was completely entranced and blown away. This might have been the greatest vocal performance I have ever heard BOB Seger do, anywhere.
It was unbelievable, his voice was so strong, so clear, so honest, so much conviction, emotion and just downright genuine. You could feel it in your bones. The chills down your spine. It was then that I realized how special this guy, and his music really are, this one said it all.
And then there was Nutbush. Well, my, my has there ever been a better Seger song for a live audience than this one; if there is I haven't come across it. This song and performance was legendary. It just tore the roof off COBO, no wrecking ball required now; the place is ready to crumble after that one. This was one for the ages and we need the DVD to remind us of it over and over again. BOB And PUNCH I hope you are listening - THE DVD, Please. The Police may be starting their world tour soon, but then there are the Po-lice; I know who I would rather look out for.
As for the "new" stuff, now not quite so new, it was better than ever, and now can fully claim its space as a full and legitimate partner with the repertoire. Wreck this Heart just steamrolled, and The Promise, well, delivered. It was pretty hard to say what the highlights were, because everything was, the piano trilogy from We've Got Tonight, Travellin' Man, Beautiful Loser were huge as usual.
And what a sight it was to see Bob and Rock go at it in Bottle, like Ali-Frazier just whaling away at each other, with Bob trying to avert the spotlight away from him toward Rock, but to no avail, as Bob more than held his own - as high energy as it gets. And then there was The Fire Down Below, one of those great, great intense Seger songs. No doubt Bob and the band got better as the tour wore on, more confidence and authority, and Bob's voice was as strong as I have heard it. If nothing else happens, Bob can know that he went out on top, in peak form.
It's funny but each show can feel like a blur, they are so intense, there is just so much going on, it is almost impossible to absorb everything, hard as you may try to, you just kind of get lost in it all, and maybe that is the way it is supposed to be.
So there it is, COBO, the great Bob Seger and his brilliant, tight Silver Bullet band have come and gone and it is shocking to think that this is probably it, all those years, all the richness of his songs, all those unstoppable performances, they are now history. We have the memories to live with and a world of thanks and gratitude toward this truly unique and special artist. We have been blessed and lucky to have had Bob for so long, and probably for this last time. Now all we need, is the DVD, just so we can travel back every now and then, to remind us just what it was like, what a treat it was. Thanks to all and to you Scott for this great site, for making so much of this possible and bringing it to us everyday.
DETROIT -- One fan's homemade sign said it all at Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band's St. Patrick's Day concert: "We all come home eventually."
Indeed, a crowd of about 12,000 crammed into Cobo Hall to witness the end of Seger's "Face the Promise" tour on Saturday. Included were family members and friends of Seger and his band members. The emotion was evident as the crowd sang along, danced and occasionally grew misty-eyed as the band flawlessly played old favorites amidst its newer ones.
Seger thanked his wife and children for being patient through his 50-city tour, and he dedicated "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" to his daughter's piano teacher, who beamed from the front row.
John and Gayle Szymek of Pontiac held a homemade sign: "Thanks for 40 years of Rock 'N Roll." As a teenager, John Szymek said he did some stage set-up for Seger when the rocker was just starting out. He recalled Seger playing a Waterford Township bowling alley before hitting the big time.
In addition to guitars, drums, keyboards and Alto Reed's saxophone, the band had the Motor City Horns and three female backup vocalists, for a full sound. Seger, who looked lean and energetic for his 61 years, played for 2 1 /2 hours, including short breaks.
Kid Rock joined in for a song near the end of the set, and the crowd roared a welcome for him, too. Dressed in a beige fedora, trademark sunglasses, St. Patrick's T-shirt and leather jacket, he sounded at home with Seger, who was dressed simply in black T-shirt and black jeans.
More gray hair receding hairlines were apparent in this crowd than at most rock concerts, but it showed the aging baby boomers don't want to let go of their early rock roots, or Seger -- their hometown hero.
Bob Seger is apparently revising his thoughts about playing more live shows. After telling the Insider that he didn't plan on hitting the road again this year, in more recent conversations he's talked about playing a handful of shows around the upper Midwest and in Canada, mostly likely in late June and early July. Seger and the Silver Bullet Band have been asked to appear at the annual motorcycle festival in Sturgis, South Dakota. A decision about the additional dates may be made before the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Seger and company brought this portion of the "Face the Promise" tour -- 50 shows played to more than 600,000 fans -- to a fine conclusion Saturday (March 17th) at Cobo Arena, adding a couple of rarities to the set list -- the only tour performance of "Good For Me" from 1980's chart-topping "Against The Wind" album and "Still The Same," which replaced "Night Moves" in the encore. As he did on Thursday (March 15th), Kid Rock also appeared to recreate his duet with Seger on "Real Mean Bottle," a Vince Gill song that appears on the "Face the Promise" album.
The band and crew celebrated the end of the tour after Thursday's show with a private party in the Olympia Room of the nearby Joe Louis Arena. The entourage dined on pizza, sandwiches and wraps, while Seger and manager Ed "Punch" Andrews made short speeches thanking everyone for their efforts. The Silver Bullet Band members were also presented with platinum album plaques for "Face The Promise" before Saturday's show -- even though none of the touring band members appear on the album.
The entourage was also given pins that read "Cobo Hall: Return Of The Bullet," causing one of the musicians to remark "sounds like a good album title." Both Cobo shows were taped and filmed for a possible release, but no details have yet been announced.
-- Gary Graff
The City of Detroit proved yet again that it is home to the greatest rock and roll audiences in the world when Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band ended their 50-city tour Saturday, March 17. In front of a lively sold out crowd, Seger enjoyed a return to both his hometown and Cobo Arena. "It was another historic performance at the legendary Cobo Arena," said Bill Lee, Olympia Entertainment's Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
"Live Bullet," the album largely responsible for making Seger a nationally known rock star, was recorded on September 4 & 5, 1975 at Cobo Arena. In honor of the famous recording and Seger's illustrious career, Olympia Entertainment, the facility management company for Cobo Arena, renamed the star dressing room the "Live Bullet" room. Olympia Entertainment officials were on hand Saturday night to present Seger with gifts and a plaque to commemorate the momentous occasion.
Two aging rock-and-roll veterans got one last chance to bask in the glow of the spotlight and the roar of nearly 17,000 loving fans Saturday night: Cobo Arena and Bob Seger capped off a tour that may also mark the end of a career that spans a generation.
Neither has offered any solid clues about the future. As the region ponders the expansion of its convention center, will Cobo - the site of so many music spectacles - fall under the wrecking ball? And will Seger, 61, retire from the business that made him one of America's blue-collar heroes?
"This was his best concert, but I know it could be his last," said Kelly Martines, of Warren, who, with her long-time friend Susan Adam of Davison, attended two shows at the Palace and two at Cobo to take in as much Seger as they could. "I hope it's not the last, but, you know, you cling to anything."
Seger himself said little to tip his hand. He closed the show by dedicating "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" to "the best crew we ever had," then offered a simple "Thank you. So long" to a crowd that would have stayed and sung back-up until morning had the band played on.
Whatever the future holds, Seger seemed to be taking in every moment of this show. As he stood atop thrusts at the sides of the stage, he shielded his eyes with his hands to get a better view of the fans standing and cheering. Backstage, he bumped fists with bandmate Alto Reed, and pumped his fist to the rhythmic clapping and stamping of a crowd eager for a second encore.
"This was excellente. Totally the best," said Adam, who recalled having seen Seger with Martines when the pair were teens. "It's amazing."
Mt. Clemens native Uncle Kracker opened the show on time at 8 p.m. and wrapped up around 8:30. Seger took the stage soon after, playing a 14-song first set that included "Old Time Rock and Roll", dedicated to his son's piano teacher, Miss Susan. He finished the first set in a duet with Kid Rock on "Real Mean Bottle."
After an 8-minute intermission - as he promised - Seger was back with "Simplicity," a driving rocker he wrote for the Detroit Pistons' 2005-06 run.
Special for the Cobo show, he played "Good for Me," an album track from "Against the Wind" that he dedicated to his wife and the spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends of the members of his Silver Bullet Band. He finished the second set with a rousing and energetically extended rendition of "Katmandu" shortly before 11 p.m., and was called back to the stage twice for two-song encores.
Seger thanked the crowd, but Dennis Bokash, 50, of Atlanta, Ga., wanted no thanks.
"Thank you, Bob Seger," he shouted as he high-fived those around him. Then, at the conclusion of the show, Bokash stood at the bottom of section B5 and shook the hand of every fan that walked by, thanking them, too, just for being there.
Bokash said he also attended Seger concerts in his youth while living in Rockwood, including three of four shows on the 1984 tour. When the final Cobo show came up, he bought six tickets and brought his hometown friends. "I wanted us to see this. It's just a huge part of our lives," he said.
"When I was a kid, they used to bring me along," said Bokash's friend Dana Phipps, 46, of Carleton. "It's just a wonderful thing. It was awesome."
-- Tom Gromak, The Detroit News
It was the perfect storm of Bob Seger excitement: a historic venue, a giddy hometown crowd and one bang-up tour finale.
Lighting up Cobo Arena on Saturday for the 10th Michigan concert of his 50-city run, Seger and his Silver Bullet Band delivered a high-energy show for a capacity crowd of about 12,000 -- a lively St. Patrick's Day audience generously dotted with green.
Seger and company were in loose spirits, but the honed performance was particularly tight as they whipped up a set list heavy on old favorites at Cobo, nostalgic home to the Detroit rocker's concerts in the '70s and '80s.
"Now this is the way to end the tour, right here!" Seger shouted early in the night after an adrenalized "Old-Time Rock and Roll."
DETROIT -- The adage that you can't go home again does not apply in any way, shape or form to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in the Motor City.
As Tuesday's show at Joe Louis Arena proved, Seger and company can indeed come home, again and again and again...And nobody minds at all.
Kicking off the closing run of his ''Face the Promise'' tour, Seger had 16,500 home town devotees, a sold-out crowd already buoyed by a sun-filled spring day, on their feet from start to finish, singing along loudly to rockers such as ''Sunspot Baby,'' ''Ramblin' Gamblin' Man'' and ''Horizontal Bop'' as well as ballads like ''We've Got Tonight'' and ''Turn the Page.''
Seger's Detroit area partisans had already seen four shows in December at the Palace of Auburn Hills, so Tuesday he and the Silver Bullets brought surprises both significant and subtle. The biggest was the show-starting rendition of Ike & Tina Turner's ''Nutbush City Limits,'' a soul scorcher with horns pumping and precision stop-time breaks sharpening the dynamics. Followed by ''Tryin' to Live My Life Without You,'' it rooted the show in a sturdy R&B groove, while ''Roll Me Away,'' which had opened previous concert, proved a potent starting point for the show's second half.
Other changes were not quite as obvious but still effective -- noticeably the expanded use of the four-member Motor City Horns section in the bridge between ''Travelin' Man'' and ''Beautiful Loser.'' Seger also added ''Fire Down Below'' to the set, along with Vince Gill's ''Real Mean Bottle'' -- although Kid Rock was not on hand to re-create their duet from the ''Face the Promise'' album.
Forty-seven shows into the tour, the Silver Bullet ensemble was still on upward curve -- confident and swinging but still tight as Red Wings shootout and anchored by Don Brewer's muscular drumming. Guitarist Mark Chatfield and saxophonist Alto Reed laced solos throughout the show, while Craig Frost's piano playing gave most of the numbers an extra layer of coloring.
Hey Scott, just wanted to touch base with you about the show at the Joe last night. First of all I have the flu and don't know that it was wise to go - but it was definetly worth it! When we walked up the first thing we noticed (I went with my son and my brother) was the two Kid Rock trucks parked out front. Made me think that Kid Rock was going to be there - also Ken Calvert (dj on WCSX in Detroit) said on the air on the way across the border that Kid would be appearing - he didn't. On this night however, he was not needed. Uncle Kracker opened and did a great job warming up the audience - he even segued into Alice Cooper's "Be My Love" at one point - repeating the lyric "Told her that I came from Deeetroit City" several times. Kracker told the crowd that "he was probably the happiest mother #$^&*! in the whole building!" and he thanked Bob and the band for the opportunity to open.
Then Bob came on and to my joy he didn't come on with "Roll Me Away" as he had during the whole tour. Not this night. Seger came on to an incredible version of "Nutbush City Limits". As he approached the "Quiet..." part of the song I wondered what would he say there - hate to be anti climatic but I really believe he just sang the words to the studio version - I know he sang "you can hear the corn grow". The song segued into Trying To Live My Life Without You. From here Seger pretty much stuck with the set list but he was in excellent voice, great spirits and seemed to be having a ball. The crowd ate up Old Time Rock N Roll - Turn the Page was a gigantic sing along. Although I didn't agree that the first Palace show I was at on Dec 20 was a subdued crowd - last night at the Joe they were pumped up and loud!
Seger opened the second set with Roll Me Away in place of Simplicity which was omitted. He did play two songs that I didn't see him do at the Palace show (other then Nutbush) - Fire Down Below and Katmandu. I loved the show and I bought myself another Seger shirt. What the hell, we have been derpived for so long I might as well spoil myself. I saw him twice and came away with four shirts and a hat. The night was incredible with the only draw back being how incredibly sick I am right now - but I wasn't going to miss it for anything.
The earth stops three more times on the amazing 2006-07 Seger tour. When reviews and news of the shows come in, this is where I'll post them. For now, content yourself with these shots of Bob and the band and a preview piece from the Grand Rapids Press, below.
Even so, the Michigan native resisted the idea of concluding this much-publicized tour with another "hometown" stint. After all, he kicked things off in his home state last November with sold-out shows in Grand Rapids and Saginaw, then played four rousing concerts at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit.
"That was really my management, my wife and a bunch of other people," Seger said of the idea of coming back to play Detroit's Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Hall to wind up the 49-date tour. "I kind of wanted to finish in Vegas. But they said, 'If you never come back, it won't feel right,' and they convinced me.
"It's against really what I wanted. We have to get up so high to do Detroit and Michigan. You have to be up there mentally."
But Seger also insisted he and the Silver Bullet Band are prepared to raise the bar yet again as his five-month tour comes to a close.
"I think they (band members) are playing better on this tour than any other tour," he said by phone from his home outside Detroit, enjoying a day off before a concert in Omaha. "Songs that I was tired of, like 'Old Time Rock and Roll,' sound better than they ever have."
Fans and concert promoters seem to agree: Based on box-office grosses, the Seger tour consistently has ranked among the top 5 tours in the country since November, racking up numerous sellouts.
Reviews have been almost universally favorable, with The Denver Post proclaiming Seger, in his signature black T-shirt and jeans, had delivered "powerful, completely unpretentious rock 'n' roll," and The Dallas Morning News crowing he "performed with all the energy, excitement and joie de vivre of a kid during a candy-store shopping spree."
But does he still feel like a kid after five months of touring? You bet.
"It's really been very cool and easier than I thought," Seger said. "Everybody's real dedicated. It must be maturity."
he mature Seger said he only felt tired after the first Grand Rapids show and after a high-altitude Denver concert in February. To help matters, Seger hasn't played shows on consecutive nights and has worked to take care of himself, babying his voice in particular.
"Not a problem, but a lot of upkeep. You have to follow strict rules ... when you're 61," he said, with a chuckle. "Tons of water, and I sleep with a vaporizer. I use throat lozenges."
A cigarette smoker, Seger conceded he still smokes but also does plenty of warm-ups before shows to keep his voice in singing shape. And "I do absolutely no talking after the gig," he said.
So, does this bode well for future tours? Or is Seger ready to hang it up now that he has gotten a long-anticipated studio album, "Face the Promise," and long-anticipated concert tour out of his system?
"I don't want to make the final decision (right now) on whether I'm done, although I probably am at my age," he offered. "I'm just going to wait until October and let the dust settle. I really need a break, and that will let me clear my head."
After Saturday's final Cobo Hall show -- which will be taped and filmed, sort of reprising Seger's 1976 "Live Bullet" album -- the father of two plans to unleash "a big exhale," relax and take his kids to Florida.
But he'll do so with fond, satisfying memories of a tour that some thought might never happen.
"I don't think we've had a complacent audience yet. It's really been amazing," Seger said. "It's really been a great experience. It really has. I couldn't be more pleased."
A lot of people felt lucky to see one of Seger's Detroit shows. Seger fan Shellie Altman made it her mission to see all four -- as well as nine other shows on the first leg of the tour. Which one was the best? Check out her First-Hand Fan report below.
Meanwhile, Seger fan Jack Cunningham sent me some great shots from the 12/22 show. I've been falling behind in posting photos, because of the time involved, so from now on I'll post them all in one place. Check out photos from Jack and some from Lisa Regal at the Segerfile's Flickr page.
The four Palace shows are over, and according to reports, Number 4 was either the best (Gary Graff, The Oakland Press) or subdued (Brian McCollum, The Detroit Free Press). The critics may disagree (and what fun would it be if they didn't?) but the fans I've heard from have nothing but raves. Check out the reports from Bill Cook and Bob Maren below.
Speaking of disagreements, an earlier post in the Freep says Seger played "The Long Goodbye" on Saturday night. Nobody else references it though, so I'm guessing he didn't. Let me know if you know differently.
That's about it for the Seger Rocks Detroit section of the Seger File. As the second leg of the tour begins, the reviews, etc. will all be back on SegerLive.
Well, 2006 is over and so is my 10-city tour with Bob and the Band. 13 shows total on this tour and I am exhausted! But oh what a great time I had!
First, let me begin with saying that I was reading some of the fan reviews of the 4th Detroit show and I have to agree with them. The 4th show was the best show in Detroit. Since I saw all 4 shows, I guess I can say that. But it is only my personal opinion. The 1st Detroit show on December 22nd was, in my opinion, very low-key. Almost tennative? Until Kid Rock hit the stage. Then the crowd came alive and all hell broke loose. But this was a BOB SEGER show. Not a Kid Rock show. So I was a little confused by this attitude, especially in Detroit. I was expecting a little more from the Detroit crowd. Actually, Chicago put that 1st Detroit crowd to shame.
The 2nd show in Detroit on the 22nd was better. The crowd was there to support Bob and his music and it showed. But the crowd still lacked a certain "life" of it's own.
The 3rd show on the 28th, was downright dull. I'm talking about the crowd not Bob. Of course, I did have the worst seat I've ever had in my life at this show, but tried not to let that bother me. Lisa & I were in the last row in the second tier, so Bob was but a tiny dot on the stage, but we could watch and hear the crowd. Wasn't much to see or hear. Our section was pretty much dead. Once again, I was very let down by this reaction. I just don't understand it.
But my faith was restored on December 30th! Here was the DETROIT crowd I had been expecting! They earned the title of "the greatest rock-n-roll audience in the world!" Loud? Oh yeah! Sang every word of every song? Oh yeah! Lost Seger a few times during this performance. The crowd was just so loud! And I love that!
I find it outragously ironic that I've been to 13 shows on this tour...9 of which I was on the floor and pretty close to the stage. Pretty good odds huh? But the last 2 shows I attend I end up with a rotton seat and a fairly good seat but not on the floor and they end up taping those 2 shows! I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, cause hey, let's face it... I saw 13 Bob Seger shows, it doesn't get any better than that. Even I have to laugh at this unexpected twist of fate.
You know that I am getting all my notes together to complete my journal of this adventure, but I thought I'd give you my ratings of my favorite shows that I saw.
I am very surprised
that the Michigan shows were my most disappointing shows,
with the exception of the 4th Detroit show. I would
have thought that they would be the best and most
exciting, but they were not. Don't get me wrong
here. I am only talking about the crowd and the
excitement level. Bob and the boys did a wonderful,
outstanding job every night.
We just got home. Sat in the 4th row at center court in the upper deck tonight. GREAT seats...clear view of everything. No Kid Rock...no big deal...whadda night. Pro cameras and crew everywhere. Pray for the DVD!!!!!!!
Our daughters (22 and 16) saw Bob for the first time. They were rocking. Oldest daughter took her close friend from Michigan State. No question, they loved it. Proof??? They are running around the house at 12:30 AM singing and dancing along to the concert "replay" (from CDs) on WCSX.
Bob was clearly having a great time.. It was a pumped and loud Motor City crowd. They certainly knew it was being recorded. More Detroit and Michigan references throughout the show than back on the 20th.
The Silver Bullet Band was smoking tonight. Overall, a better show than the one we saw back on the 20th (the one I said was one of my top 5 concerts, if not #1). I guess tonight's show is now #1. Better setlist and performance....period
There were some phantom percussion effects (crash-like sounds) that flawed a few songs late in the show. Techs worked near Don's kit and fixed it between encores. Hopefully, they can edit out of the recordings.
I'm ready for another show...unfortunately, no more are scheduled in Motown.
I had seen Seger twice before: first in 1980 at Madison Square Garden on the "Against the Wind" tour and then in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ during 'The Distance" tour. As the years "rolled slowly past", I wondered if I would ever get the pleasure of seeing him perform live again. I started to get excited when 'Face the Promise" finally appeared to be a reality and then waited patiently for new of New York area dates. When only one show for Madison Square Garden was announced, I (jokingly) suggested to my wife that we should go to Detroit to see him. Thank goodness she took this suggestion seriously and urged that we do it as our Christmas present to each other. We flew from Newark to Detroit on 12/29 with our return flight on 12/31.
I ended up getting 16th row center seats on the floor for the last of the four shows at the Palace. The atmosphere was electric; just as if it was a Bruce Springsteen concert in New Jersey. The crowd was on its feet the entire night. Rumors of Kid Rock (who had been at the Pistons game the night before) were running through the crowd. Steve Azar performed well but it was clear who the crowd wanted. The noise level increased when Seger and the band hit the stage and I felt like I was in "Live Bullet". In hindsight, I was and enjoyed every minute of it.
Having followed the progress of the tour on "Segerfile", I knew what to expect as to the set list. However, I didn't expect 17,000 people to be singing every word to almost every song!!! "Roll Me Away", a personal favorite, was nicely accentuated by Laura Creamer providing bass drum accompanyment. The Motor City Horns added funk (not that Alto Reed isn't funky enough!!) The balance of old and new songs was great and Seger seemed to take great pleasure in the fact that he was dipping further back into his past. However, the songs from "Face the Promise" sounded tight and were well received.
I enjoyed watching the various members of the band-especially Alto Reed and Mark Chatfield. Alto is just a constant man in motion and Chatfield really worked the entire stage. Chris Campbell, Don Brewer and Craig Frost were solid. My wife was amazed when I told her how long most of the band had been with Seger. The band was tight and on its mark the entire evening.
Seger was in his element as well, with a gap toothed smile on his face and his arm pumping in the air. It's obvious he didn't spend his hiatus from the road working on his dance moves, but the crowd didn't care. We wanted to hear the hits, the songs we grew up with, the songs that gave meaning to our lives. "Night Moves", "Mainstreet", "Ramblin' Gamblin" Man" and so many others had the crowd unified as one. You could say that there were so many other hits that didn't make the set list but we can't expect him to play a four hour show.
There's no doubt in my
mind that we picked the best place to see Seger perform
live-at home, in front of friends and family. For
one night, I was born in Michigan and was part of the
"Seger Nation". Let's hope we can do it again soon.
Audio troubles, tame crowd sap the energy
There were bright moments during Bob Seger's show Saturday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and they came mostly in the lighter spots: a frisky "Sunspot Baby," a giddy "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight," a rollicking twofer on "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser."
But in the finale of a highly anticipated four-night hometown stand, the high points were less forthcoming than at other flagship dates on the Detroit rock icon's national excursion, including his first Palace show Dec. 20 and the tour's November opener in Grand Rapids.
It was an unexceptional night on a tour that has largely reaped glowing reviews. This final show of the tour's initial leg lacked the spark and energy that made magic at previous dates -- a scenario that got little help from an audience that was at times oddly subdued.
Running just over two hours, the night clocked in a bit shorter than his other Palace concerts; at some point after the show's start, Seger opted to shave a pair of new tunes from the set list.
Seger during stretches sounded less robust, less assured in reaching for the high notes. That was the product, perhaps, of a cold he had battled earlier in the week, and he sounded downright hoarse by the time he hit "Against the Wind" in the second encore.
But the evening's overwhelming problem was the audio mix, a muddy, muffled mess that buried the wrong stuff at the wrong times. It was just one of those nights -- the kind of night when a microphone could suddenly droop and plop itself against drummer Don Brewer's high-hat during the first encore, marring his otherwise impeccable performance on "Hollywood Nights."
It all added up to an anticlimactic night in a hometown run that had been packed with peaks both musical and emotional. But fans shouldn't walk away too despairing: It's doubtful that this is the last Detroit will see of Seger on this tour, which now stretches into March. "You've been a great audience, Michigan," Seger said before kicking into his chugging closer, "Rock and Roll Never Forgets." Don't bet against hearing that testimonial at least a couple more times.
It was another warm December night Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, as Bob Seger put a punctuation mark on his run of sold-out hometown shows. As with each of his other three Palace concerts this month, Seger made minor tweaks in the first half of his scheduled two-hour-plus set list, with new material that included "The Long Goodbye" and "Satisfied."
There were occasional rough spots to Seger's voice in this final show of his tour's first leg, perhaps the remnants of a cold he had battled earlier in the week.
But they seemed of little bother to an enthusiastic crowd of about 17,000 who came primed to live up to Seger's party-hearty opening declaration: "Saturday night in Michigan -- it's dangerous out here!"
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band saved the best for last in their four-show stand at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
With cameras and tape machines rolling, Seger and company delivered the most consistent and exuberant start-to-finish concert of the homecoming on Saturday night (Dec. 30), bringing 2006 to a rocking close to the delight of more than 17,000 pre-New Year's Eve revelers who couldn't get enough of that "Old Time Rock and Roll."
Credit some production and repertoire tweaks for vaulting Saturday's show above the other three nights at the Palace. With the band already keyed up because of the filming -- although bassist Chris Campbell and guitarist Mark Chatfield were both suffering with the flu -- a new lighting scheme, brighter and more dynamic than that which had been used at the tour's previous shows, helped bring extra energy to the two-hour and 10-minute show and give it a visual punch that accented the music.
And the music underwent some changes, too. Though largely the same set that Seger and the Silver Bullets have been performing since the tour opened Nov. 8 in Grand Rapids, a crucial change came in the second half when the group eliminated the brief sit-down set -- a musically compelling section that nevertheless brought the tempo down after the roof-raising "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man." Instead the band powered through the bluesy "Satisfied" -- a song from the new "Face the Promise" album that Seger wrote for his wife, Nita -- and then launched into hard-charging crowd favorites such as "Sunspot Baby," "Horizontal Bop" and "Katmandu."
And even with some sound system glitches, the encores -- "Night Moves," Hollywood Nights," "Against the Wind" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" -- still brought the show, and the Palace stand, to a triumphant conclusion.
Seger's camp hasn't yet said what will become of the footage from the final two Palace concerts, although one source said they'd like to do something with it -- probably a DVD and perhaps a live album -- "sooner rather than later."
Seger and the Silver Bullets, meanwhile, are off until Saturday (Jan. 6), when the tour resumes in Orlando, Fla. Some west coast dates are being announced for late February, and there are strong rumors of a return to the Detroit area -- probably at Joe Louis Arena -- to close out the tour in March. An announcement is expected early in the new year.
The Face the Promise Tour is now 20 shows old, with 21 more on the schedule, at least as it stands today. But there are still as many as ten open dates, so more shows could be added if the second leg really goes through March 15, as Seger said to writer Gary Graff recently.
Either way, the first leg is nearly done, and it can only be judged a tremendous success. Thanks to the Detroit sales, Seger ranks No. 1 in concert ticket sales for the week ending 12/24, leading Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Justin Timberlake and others. He ranks #3 in overall ticket sales for all events (including sporting and theater events).
Thursday's show (Auburn Hills #3) added "Still the Same" to the mix. As I thought he might, Seger sent "Simplicity" out in honor of James Brown.
A camera and sound crew caught the show on tape; Saturday's final show at the Palace will also be filmed, according to an article by Gary Graff:
There's no word yet on what will become of the material, although a Seger source told Billboard.com that "obviously we're intending to do something with it, sooner rather than later."
Bob Seger pretty much stuck to the script Thursday night, playing the third of four sold-out shows at the Palace of Auburn Hills. There was one notable exception before the show's intermission: After 10 years' absence from the stage, Seger showed his fans that he's "Still the Same."
The popular song, which he hadn't performed on previous nights in Detroit, drew the fans to their feet, people apparently agreeing that the silver-haired rocker hasn't changed.
"He's like a kid," someone shouted in the crowd. "I love it!"
Seger's voice resonated deep and true through classics like "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight" and "Travelin'Man"/"Beautiful Loser," while film crews taped the show, presumably for some yet-to-be announced future release.
"Alright, Michigan," Seger implored from the stage, "you feeling funky tonight?" Based on the roars, the answer was undeniably yes.
Seger started the second half of the show dedicating "Simplicity" to the recently deceased James Brown. It was really the only somber moment of the night.
While he ripped through renditions of "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and "Sunspot Baby," it became clear that the 61-year-old rocker wasn't just performing on his first concert tours in a decade, he was having a blast doing it.
Seger bounced around the stage, black T-shirt and headband soaked with sweat, pumping his fist and flashing huge smiles. He took pride in his roots, relishing in repeated introductions that divulged that most of his 13-member supporting band has Michigan ties.
Even if he avoided the climactic notes of "Night Moves," his exuberance masked any imprecision in reproducing his greatest hits.
He ended the 2-hour, 15-minute performance with a pertinent classic: "Rock and Roll Never Forgets." Along the way, he even fine-tuned his lyrics for the occasion.
"Sweet sixteen turns 61!," he bellowed with a huge grin. "Come back baby, rock and roll never forgets."
Friday night marked the second show of Bob Seger's four-night run at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and it began much the same as the first: as a lovefest. "It's great to be home," Seger said, and it was clear everyone agreed.
Just about the entire crowd of 17,000 was on its feet during the show's two hours and 20 minutes, as Seger & the Silver Bullet Band delivered a mix of classics and a few tunes from his new disc, "Face the Promise."
At least early on, the set list didn't deviate much from Wednesday night's show. Highlights prior to the admission included "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser," "Old Time Rock & Roll" and "Turn the Page," which featured Seger at the piano and the crowd roaring its approval.
After the intermission he mixed things up a bit, sprinkling in a few newer songs and "Katmandu."
The first encore included climactic versions of "Night Moves" and "Hollywood Nights." But the energy level continued to rise during the second encore, "Against the Wind" (dedicated to his son) and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" -- a fitting finale, because it was clear no one in the crowd had forgotten him in the 10 years that he'd been away from live performing.
There was no appearance by the first night's guest, Kid Rock, who announced Friday he'd be traveling during Christmas to visit troops overseas.
Bob Seger performed his second of four sold-out homecoming concerts at the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday night, working through an altogether tighter set which eliminated the mid-show lull that marred Wednesday's Palace opener, and illustrated how the slightest tweaks in a set list can alter the ebb and flow of a show.
Grant it, it was tough to compete with the electricity in the air at Wednesday's show, when Seger took the stage in front of a Detroit audience for the first time in more than a decade. But Friday's crowd of 17,000 was, well, a Friday crowd, and was younger, looser and more ready to get down than the work week crew that made up Wednesday's audience.
It helped, too, that Seger already had one of the Detroit shows under his belt. These are clearly the biggest concerts on his current tour, and getting the first big one out of the way had to take a load off Seger's shoulders.
But it also seemed to help that he didn't have Kid Rock waiting in the wings to join him on the show-closer. Rock's cameo Wednesday, while a nifty, inevitable nugget of Detroit rock history, disrupted the flow of the show, and Seger's set frankly works better without him. (Sorry, Rock.) Rock's appearance meant the show closed with the two Bobs performing "Real Mean Bottle," which bumped "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" up to the end of the set and resulted in the elimination of "Katmandu" altogether; it also meant Seger was sharing the spotlight in the show's final moments. Friday's set -- with "Katmandu" leading into the encores and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" closing the show -- felt much more natural.
One thing that didn't change was Seger's obvious jubilance to be performing for a hometown audience. Seger flashed his toothy grin throughout the 2-hour, 15-minute show, and was rarely seen not bouncing in place, rhythmically pumping his fist in the air or cheering on his Silver Bullet bandmates like a proud papa. His fist bumps with sax man Alto Reed were especially endearing.
And while the show was a trip back for both Seger and his fans, never did it feel like a nostalgia fest. Seger brought vigor and passion to the material from his new album, "Face the Promise," especially "Wreck This Heart" and the rip-roarin' title track. Sure, the crowd clearly came to hear the favorites, but the new songs work well in the context of the show.
Still, enough's enough, and Wednesday's show -- which revealed a whopping eight songs from the new album -- nearly overdosed on new material. Seger mercifully cut the new songs down to five on Friday, but he can still afford to excise at least one of them -- I vote for the too plain "Simplicity," which he says he wrote for the Detroit Pistons -- in order to tighten the show even further.
Also, it would be heartwarming to hear him open up to the crowd. He stuck entirely to the script Friday, with scant mentions of "It's great to be home!" here and there, but Seger the storyteller never emerged. If he were to simply address the crowd and explain the significance of this hometown stand, he could bring down the house with relative ease.
Treats from the show included a mid-set "Sightseeing" (from "The Fire Inside") -- performed with the band huddled in a circle at center stage -- and a set-closing "Katmandu," neither of which made it into Wednesday's show. Meanwhile, the triple shot of "We've Got Tonight," "Turn the Page" and his segue from "Travelin' Man" into "Beautiful Loser" remains a high point, and "Hollywood Nights" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" -- performed Friday in their rightful places in the set -- absolutely smoke.
Six weeks into his tour, Seger's voice is in amazing shape and his Silver Bullet Band is dazzling to behold. Now, with two Detroit shows down and two to go, here's to hoping one of them is the out-and-out magical evening we've all been waiting for.
Seger, Detroit, Rock & Roll!
Bob Seger rocked a crowd of 17,000 Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, his first show in metro Detroit in more than a decade.
They waited a decade. Sometimes impatiently, sometimes forgiving. Always with passion intact.
Wednesday night, at last, they got Bob Seger. In the most prominent concert of Detroit music since Eminem played Ford Field in summer 2003, more than 17,000 fans watched -- and sang, and screamed -- as the local icon lit up the Palace of Auburn Hills for his first hometown show in more than 10 years.
On a night that included a well-paced batch of classics and new songs -- and a not-so-surprising Kid Rock appearance during the second of two encores - the performance was first rate: A jubilant Seger and his 13-member Silver Bullet Band were atop their game, deep into a national tour that kicked off six weeks ago in Grand Rapids.
The grooves had warmth and bite, the vocals strength and poise, in a two-hour-plus set that traversed nearly four decades of familiar heartland rock. Wednesday, though, was about far more than the way the songs were played.
Seger, pleasantly informal in jeans and a black T-shirt, opened his show at the Palace as he's done every night on his tour, leading his band through the triumphant chords of "Roll Me Away." But Wednesday night's concert was no standard Bob Seger show. In Detroit, where fans speak of the star as an old friend, it's never a standard Bob Seger show.
In recent days, 61-year-old Seger had joked about whether he'd be able to hear himself onstage at the Palace. He wasn't kidding: While the capacity Palace crowd was at times more reverent than raucous, the roar Wednesday night, which emerged on each recognizable opening lick, was massive.
It was a show that built momentum as it went, each emotional crescendo matched by another: a cathartic "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser," a stomping "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," a lovely "We've Got Tonight" with Seger at the piano, where he remained for a smoky reading of "Turn the Page." "Mainstreet" was soulful, "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight" was a romp, and the new "Face the Promise," propelled by guitarist Mark Chatfield's oily riff, has turned into a formidable live number.
The night rounded to a close with a pair of rousing encores, which included four of the night's most potent performances. "Night Moves," "Hollywood Nights," and "Against the Wind" delivered the sort of yearning, soaring, midtempo rock that cemented Seger's name during the 1970s.
And finally, capping a day of radio rumors and startling nobody, appeared Kid Rock, returning a favor for his friend Seger, who had performed at Rock's Super Bowl weekend shows in Detroit. After a bow, and hug from Kid Rock, the two ripped through a cover of Vince Gill's twangy "Real Mean Bottle."
While insiders say it's not a sure bet that Rock will be at all three upcoming Palace shows, it's likely fans will see him again.
Wednesday's lively but heartfelt show revealed a truth that wasn't as apparent even during his last run in 1996.
Seger has accomplished what is surely one of a musician's greatest hopes: His best songs have now transcended their original forms and context to become something bigger than themselves, embedded deep within the bond between artist and audience. They have become indelible.
As he rolled through his career standards, it felt not so much like a good-times nostalgia trip -- every classic rocker does that -- as a poignant journey back through the real lives of real people. Real people who undoubtedly told themselves, as Seger reached into his gut for the high notes on "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," that yeah -- it was worth the wait.
He was casual in black T-shirt and blue jeans as he strode out in front of a sellout crowd of 17,000 Wednesday night, but Bob Seger clearly felt the anticipation in the air at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday night, as heavy as a New Orleans fog, as he played the first of four sold-out shows here.
It's been a decade since Seger last played in Metro Detroit, and he is living proof that the human voice truly is a muscle that only needs exercise, and that talent will endure even a long period of rust and disuse. After a month and a half of road work, his voice is infinitely stronger than it was at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction just two years ago.
As soon as his soulful, smoky voice hit the first mention of Michigan -- the line "12 hours out of Mackinaw City" from "Roll Me Away," Seger heard the crowd erupt and they rarely sat down after that.
On a stripped-down, simple stage, his Silver Bullet Band looks comfortable again, having whipped themselves back into road shape. They are an arena-worthy sight, offering enough visual variety to offset their low-key front man. Alto Reed glided across the stage on cat feet, danced with a huge bass saxophone and ran back and forth onstage, breaking into that familiar Soupy shuffle when he played the saxophone riff on "Old Time Rock and Roll."
Craig Frost on keyboards, Chris Campbell on bass, Mark Chatfield and Jim "Moose" Brown on guitar and Don Brewer on drums are all rock solid, with longtime backup singers Shaun Murphy and Laura Creamer and newcomer Barbara Payton offering vocals so rich in texture and volume their soulful, collective roar could overwhelm a lesser lead singer.
It appears to be the first time Seger has toured with a brass section, and it seems so natural and right, it's hard to imagine that he ever sang songs like "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You," without them.
There was a slight lag as he went through three new songs from his new album "Face the Promise" all packed together in the middle of the show.
Dispersed throughout the show, the rhythm wouldn't slow down as much; the crowd seemed to enjoy "Wreck this Heart" particularly.
The new songs work well, but they don't evoke the depth of emotion that his older songs do. Radio airplay would fix that, but that's a slow slog these days.
When the crowd sings all of "Turn the Page," word for word, loudly enough to almost drown Seger out, there's obviously a lot more than a concert going on. There are innumerable layers of communal and personal memory kicking in, with Seger acting as the much-loved host and emotional touchstone.
Seger and the Silver Bullet band return for their second show at the Palace on Friday night.
Tickets are officially sold out, but it's possible a handful will be released on the day of the show.
A knowingly placed recording of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town," playing at full volume over the speakers, said it all at Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's concert Wednesday night at The Palace.
Seger and his boys were indeed back in town, fulfilling wishes that his legion of hometown fans have held for 10 years' worth of holidays.
Like kindred spirits Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey or John Mellencamp in Indiana, Seger in Michigan - and especially in the metro Detroit area - is as much an event as a concert, a collective celebration of civic pride presided over by a favorite son. In Milwaukee or St. Louis or Chicago, songs such as "Mainstreet," "We've Got Tonight," "Hollywood Nights" and "Night Moves" are big hits; in these parts they're part of the cultural fabric that has defined the musical heritage of the area for the better part of four decades.
With all that going for him, Seger could have spent more than two hours singing Christmas carols Wednesday night and still kept the soldout Palace crowd of about 17,000 on its feet for the entire show - including Kid Rock, who was in the house planning to re-create the duet version of Vince Gill's "Real Mean Bottle" that he and Seger recorded for the latter's new album, "Face the Promise." Instead, Seger and the Silver Bullets rocked their fans with plenty of hits and a generous sampling of material from the platinum-certified "Face the Promise."
Greeting the faithful with a hearty "Nice to see ya!" Seger drove into the first of four Palace shows with the anthemic "Roll Me Away" as the audience sang almost as loudly as his amplified voice and pumped their fists with each stab of timpani. The four-piece Motor City Horns section brought extra muscle to "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You," while guitarist Mark Chatfield put the appropriate Rolling Stonesy grind into "Wreck This Heart."
The fans hung with Seger and company for new songs like "Wait For Me," "No Matter Who You Are" and "Face the Promise," but they really raised the roof for favorites that were greeted like old friends returning from a long absence - especially "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," Seger's first national hit which has returned to the repertoire for the first time since 1980. "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll," with Chatfield and Silver Bullet showman Alto Reed trading guitar and saxophone solos, turned The Palace into a veritable wedding reception. "Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight" had the grit of a barroom shuffle, and an effective pairing of the gentle "We've Got Tonight" and the pensive "Turn the Page" provided a perfect set up for the pairing of "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser."
With both the performance and the sound mix noticeably improved from the tour's Nov. 8 opening in Grand Rapids, Seger exuded confidence and an energy that belied his 61 years, and was ably supported by the whole Silver Bullet crew, from Craig Frost's keyboard fills to Don Brewer's rock-solid drumming. When he sang "next time we'll get it right" at the end of "Roll Me Away," Seger was being a bit disingenuous; this time it worked just fine.
If performing in his hometown is like being in the NBA playoffs, as Bob Seger said recently, then the home team almost let the first one slip away.
Seger and his Silver Bullet Band opened a four-game series, uh, four-show run Wednesday at The Palace, the Pistons' home, with a performance that resembled one of those games in which they start strong, get bogged down in the middle and pull it out at the end.
In this case, the band got a big lift off the bench from Kid Rock, Seger's Motor City disciple, who joined his hero for a rousing, show-closing version of the honky-tonk romp "Real Mean Bottle," a song Vince Gill wrote in tribute to Merle Haggard.
It's one of eight songs from Seger's new album "Face the Promise" that was squeezed into the two-hour, 25-song performance, and it was its first appearance on the tour.
That's a lot of new stuff for a guy whose audience is there mostly for the old stuff. When you pride yourself on your songwriting and having something to say, as Seger does, but you release a new album only every decade or so, you probably want the faithful to hear what's on your mind.
That's fine if you tour regularly and routinely play your new creations. But the 61-year-old Seger hasn't toured in 10 years. Those loyal fans aren't only not that interested in the new songs, they probably haven't heard more than one or two of them.
So when he reeled off three new songs in a row, as he did near the end of the first half of the show, it sucked some of the abundant energy out of the sell-out crowd of about 17,000.
A few of the new inclusions, such as the hard-edged rocker "Wreck This Heart" and country-tinged ballad "The Answer's in the Question," work pretty well.
Others, such as the monotonous "No Matter Who You Are" and "Simplicity" (the latter inspired by the Pistons) are as predictable as coach Flip Saunders' unwillingness to use the Pistons' bench.
Another problem was the band's energy, which was considerable but flagged occasionally and wasn't as focused as it was at the tour's first shows in Grand Rapids and Saginaw. Rockers such as "Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight," "Sunspot Baby," "Hollywood Nights" and "Horizontal Bop" were serviceable but lacked the explosiveness that makes them so effective in concert.
It wasn't for lack of trying. And certainly the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer - in his touring uniform of black T-shirt and jeans - seemed to be excited and in good spirits, smiling, pointing and waving throughout the show.
"It's great to be home," Seger announced before an encore of "Against the Wind," one of several ballads - including "Night Moves," the Ann Arbor-inspired "Mainstreet" and the impressive coupling of "We've Got Tonight" and "Turn the Page" (with Seger at the piano) - that sounded particularly good.
The 13-piece band, including a sparingly used four-piece horn section, did rally impressively at times. They turned up the heat considerably on warhorses "Old Time Rock & Roll," "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" and the old "Live Bullet" coupling of "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser" (which highlighted Flint native and Grand Funk Railroad drummer Don Brewer).
A cover of Chuck Berry's "C'est La Vie" and new rockers "Wreck This Heart" and "Face the Promise" also flashed the kind of energetic teamwork that was lacking at times.
The sound mix Wednesday seemed to bury Bob's voice in the mix, which may have been a blessing since he seemed to flag during the second half.
The malaise seemed to trickle down to opener Steve Azar, the Mississippi-born country-rocker who has opened most of Seger's shows thus far on the tour. He didn't have the same energy or edge as he did at the beginning of the tour.
Silver Bullet keyboardist Craig Frost acknowledged after the show that the band was subdued at times, no doubt the result of the anxiety and anticipation that typically precedes Seger's Detroit runs.
Hey, even the Pistons have off nights. With three games, ahem, shows left - Friday, Dec. 28 and Dec. 30 - it's a sure bet the rest of this series will be a slam dunk.
First-hand Fan Report:
Great friggin' night at The Palace. Gotta admit, the atmosphere and the set list last night made the eyes well up a couple of times. Can't remember that feeling at any concert I've attended since the 60's. At last count (please don't ask why I bothered to count), I've gone to about 160 concerts. This was top 5...maybe #1.
We started the night off at The Post across from The Palace around 5:30...drinks, dinner, WRIF, packed with Seger fans. Took The Post's "school bus" shuttle over to the Palace at 7:30. The bus ride was raucous and fun...we probably needed a "Safety Patrol" or two on that one. Kudos to the bus driver for putting up with us.
Mary Lynn and I sat on the riser section (120) behind the soundboard / 'puters...dead center.
Roll Me Away - the band taking the stage - crowd was electric - sounded like the Pistons made a buzzer beater to win a playoff game.
Wreck This Heart - the band was tight - rocked - set the stage for two more hours.
Betty Lou - excellent solos from Mark and Alto.
Travelin Man/Beautiful Loser, Turn The Page - listening to the crowd take over...so loud...so cool...oh yeah, gotta go stick Live Bullet in the CD player...no play the LP on the turntable...I'll be right back.
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man - Still my favorite song...er..wait..Heavy Music...er...uh... - the sound was a bit muddy and played "maybe" a little slow. Needed to hear more of Craig's keyboard and Don's drums. If the Silver Bullet Band would have transitioned to Heavy Music, I would have officially announced "I can die now".
Sunspot Baby - great sing-a-long - crowd took over - light projections of the sun all over the band and stage...
Horizontal Bop - everybody wants to do....
Rock and Roll Never Forgets - hearing it at this unusual point in the setlist let us know we were in for something special. Bob found the good old higher octave a number of times.
Night Moves - first encore - the very cool, eerie lighting - made the Palace seem smaller for a few minutes.
Hollywood Nights - Don Brewer (my favorite drummer) wailing in the back...
Real Mean Bottle - Bob announcing "the two words you've been waiting to hear all night"..."Kid Rock". Seeing Kid approach Bob, bowing to him, hugging, dancing, singing his ass off. GREAT. The live version of RMB belongs in our music collection. Hopefully, somebody will bootleg it. So much stronger than the studio version...like Seger's career...ALWAYS BETTER LIVE! No way for a third encore after that
The band! - never saw 15 people on a Bob Seger stage - make it 16 with Kid Rock. Michigan royalty up there....King Bob, Don Brewer, Alto Reed, Chris Campbell, Craig Frost, Laura Creamer, Shawn Murphy, Bob Ritchie and we might have to add Mark Chatfield after last night.
Can't wait until we return on the 30th with 17,000 more close friends to see Bob again.
Amazing show last night. They made an announcement that the show would be starting in 5 minutes. I went in and went to my seat. I thought I might have crappy seats because I was at the side of the stage, and when you look at the maps they could have been good or bad. They were GREAT!! 15 rows up from the stage to the right side of the arena. Seger was in fine form all night long - no weakness in his voice at all from beginning to end. One thing else I looked for but it never came was any reference to his age or his lengthy absence. Even during "Rock N Roll Never Forgets" he never did the "turned 61" line. He sang it straight up.
I know if anyone would understand what I felt last night it will be you. I swear at some point it was like a religious experience. To be there and watching Bob was just amazing. I was by myself (I had gotten tickets for 4 of us, two were together in the upper level and my son was down on the floor) in my section. It was great to be surrounded by Seger fans. To my left were two older guys who you could tell loved Bob. One of them finally said to me "I've never seen someone have so much fun at Seger concert. You (me) know every word to every song". I thought to myself...no that's too easy but seriously I had a great time.
I thought I could live without "Old Time Rock N Roll" but it ended up being a hi-light. A big fun sing along. "The" moment of the night for me personally was the "Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser" combo. This version of the Silver Bullet Band doesn't need to take a back seat to anyone. Kicked ass! I made two bathroom/beer runs and I have to admit I picked "Wait For Me" and then "Answer's In The Question." It had to be done and those two seemed easiest for me to leave.
Here is the set-list as best as I can remember it
There was no Katmandu and he didn't play Satisfied or Tomorrow. I was hoping for one of them. All in all, the best show I have ever seen. Seriously. I had seen Bob do the final show at DTE (Pine Knob) to end the '96 tour but this was far superior. I have seen a lot of bands but last night was amazing.
Seger can walk on water, we love him. But I was ever so slightly disappointed, and I really don't know why. The sound issues have been addressed, everything sounded great. I had a great side stage seat, purchased from Ticketmaster just hours before the show. With my $20 binoculars, I could almost read Bob's wristwatch. The arena was very clean, the crowd well behaved. But the Saginaw show was my first time, and you never forget your first time.
I thought Bob looked tired the first half of the show. He didn't speak much to the audience...His voice got weak at about the 3rd song, stayed raspier than usual until maybe the 6th song.
The energy really picked up after intermission though. The boys sure were rockin'. We were all waiting for Kid Rock; apparently he was spotted in the building earlier in the day. When he came out for the final song, the place went WILD! Then Bob really got his groove on...very high octane.
Security was plentiful, as I expected...they've gotten serious since the 'basketbrawl'. No cameras at all were allowed, although somehow there were plenty of flashbulbs going off. Rumor has it that Bob himself said no cameras at 7pm, and the show started at 7:30. There was also a rumor floating around that Springsteen will be at the Friday night show.
(Thanks to Bill Cook for the Palace sign photo.)
Bob Seger charges through tour with renewed vigor
Somewhere out on the road between Kansas City and oh, say Katmandu, Bob Seger found his mojo again.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer never abandoned music, but as recently as September, with the release of his new CD, "Face the Promise," he hedged his bets about whether he'd ever go back on tour. If he did a few dates, and if they worked out well, then maybe just maybe, he'd do a brief tour of 10 or so dates.
Things worked out well. "The feel-good show of 2006," raved the Indianapolis Star about his show there. It was "a cathartic return for one of rock's greatest voices," exulted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Chicago reviewers, who sharpen their pens on veteran rockers, bubbled over.
Next Wednesday is the first of his Palace of Auburn Hills shows, "the most important dates," Seger called them in a phone interview Monday. That's why he delayed the hometown shows to the end of the first leg of his tour, which started Nov. 8 in Grand Rapids. "You want to be peaking, kind of like the playoffs," the veteran road warrior said. "You want to come in here and rock hard!"
Rocking hard will apparently include Kid Rock on one of those Palace dates. He did, after all, duet with Seger on the Vince Gill song "Real Mean Bottle" on "Face the Promise." Although granted, Rock's life has been a little tumultuous lately.
"I'd be surprised if he wasn't there," said Seger, erupting in laughter. "But we never know, Punch (Andrews, manager to both rockers) and I, what Rock is going to do. We think we know.
"We're saving 'Bottle' for him, but we'd looove to have some notice!" Seger said, building to a genial roar. "We do the song in sound check every third date, but it's not the same as playing it live. But he won't tell us anything."
But hang on, how did "maybe a few shows" in September turn into a 45-date tour. Right now the concerts extend into late February. What happened? What's he on?
Sleep and water, as it turns out.
"I go home, drink a lot of water and go to sleep," Seger revealed. And yes, he means all the way home: He flies back to Michigan on a private plane after each gig. No noisy hotels, no endless backstage yakking. It's meant that his voice has held up surprisingly well, even with his lifelong smoking habit.
Babying his voice
One of the secrets to Seger's enduring career has been that voice, with its unmistakable scratchy, soulful timbre, a voice that turns rough and raucous on the hard-rocking numbers, but is an instrument of sensitivity and emotional nuance on the more reflective songs.
Fortunately, except for puffing on the smokes, he's looking after it.
"I went to this doctor after seven gigs," Seger said. "He said, 'What do you do after the show?' I said, 'I go offstage, get in the car, go to the airport and fly home!' He said, 'You could not be doing anything better.' Most singers after the show, they bask in it. They want to talk. They want to party, and that's the worst thing you can do after you've just killed yourself for two hours and 10 minutes. You've got to let it rest! But in rock and roll, nobody ever wants to do that."
Energy to spare
Some of Seger's own staffers are marveling at the energy he's showing on this tour, more than on his last outing 10 years ago.
"Or the one before that," the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer offered with that laugh audible for a square mile. "I don't know what it is. For some reason, it's just yeah! I think it's maturity, that's the best thing I can say. You really owe it to people who paid money to show up in the best shape possible."
But it's even deeper than drinking water and resting. To see Seger dancing as he sings Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell (C'est La Vie)" is to observe someone losing himself in the joy of performing.
As the line in "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" goes, "sweet 16's turned 31," but he now sings it "sweet 16's turned 61!!!"with disbelief, wonder and awe. Recapturing that joy did surprise him.
"But I've gotten such good support," Seger said. "The three gals I sing with are so great. And the (Motor City) horns, I really love what they add. They only play seven or eight songs out of 25, but it's a nice change."
Along for the ride
Seger is joined onstage by Silver Bullet Band veterans (of 30 plus years) Alto Reed on saxophone and Chris Campbell on bass, as well as Craig Frost (formerly of Grand Funk), a 25-year vet, on keyboards. Mark Chatfield and Jim "Moose" Brown play guitar, and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, who's toured with Seger before, is on drums.
When the band kicks into Seger's '60s hit "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," which they've played on every show since Saginaw, if it sounds just like the old Capitol single, it helps that backup singer Laura Creamer sang on the original record back in 1966.
Seger's other longtime backup singer, Shaun Murphy, took a brief hiatus from singing lead with Little Feat to join him on the road, and Barbara Payton rounds out the trio of backup vocalists.
"Everybody is really committed. I think it's just maturity on everybody's part," Seger said of his band. "Don Brewer was always a major professional on drums, but everybody else in the band, they get it now. We don't know how many more times we'll be able to do this. They really are dedicated and committed, and it really is fun."
It was Brewer who suggested that Seger do "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" again, which he hadn't performed live in 26 years.
"I never thought I'd do that song again," Seger admits. "We were messing around and he started playing it and I started singing it I found the right key, a whole step down from the original, then we found the right tempo, and the girls started singing it oh man, it was too good! It's getting a hugeresponse at the shows. I didn't think anyone knew it! (He sings:) 'Ramblin' Man!' Everybody's singing it!"
Rocker John Mellencamp's barked order to Seger cinched it. "I did that Vanity Fair photo session with John, and he said, 'If you do this tour, and you don't do 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man,' I'm going to come out and personally kick your ass.' So I said, 'OK, John ' "
It wouldn't be a Seger interview without an affectionate story/tirade about his longtime manager, Andrews. Seger speculates that Andrews might be arranging to have one or all of The Palace shows taped.
"I don't know if Punch is going to tape. He doesn't tell me anything," Seger said. "He hasn't said a thing, but that doesn't mean he won't do it. The guy will call a crew, he'll say, 'Oh, can you be here in two hours?' That's the way he is. I never know what the hell is going to happen. Just point me, tell me where to go "
Here come the big ones.
Less than a year ago, Bob Seger still wasn't sure he'd ever tour again. In four days, he'll be playing his biggest show in a decade.
The first of four much-awaited hometown dates comes Wednesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a concert that sold out in 3 minutes when tickets went on sale. By Dec. 30, nearly 70,000 fans will have shared an evening with Seger at the Palace -- the latest round of native rock 'n' roll love for an artist whose Michigan career stretches back 44 years.
Seger, who in the autumn expressed uncertainty about his vocal strength and stamina, sounds upbeat and confident as he homes in on Detroit, nearing the midway point in a national tour that kicked off last month in Grand Rapids.
"I have to pinch myself. It's almost surreal," says Seger, 61. "I think this is my favorite tour of the last three. You think you're in good shape, but then, I feel like I'm still getting in better shape each night."
He's enjoyed sellouts in nearly every city so far, and reviews have been uniformly strong for the 2-hour-plus shows that have featured new material sprinkled amid the ample classics. The voice has held up, Seger says, in large part thanks to a low-key regimen that has included flights home -- and a day of rest -- after each show.
"The doctor said, 'You can't do anything better -- the worst thing rock guys do is walk off the stage and go chatter for two hours.' I let my voice get a good rest on the way home, and it works out perfect."
While he'd earlier talked of possible Joe Louis Arena shows, Seger says he isn't committing to anything beyond the tour's scheduled final night, March 3 in Las Vegas. He concedes that his Dec. 30 Palace concert theoretically "could be" his last-ever hometown performance.
But he also says that national promoters -- some of them pleasantly surprised by this tour's success -- are already clamoring for Seger to hit the amphitheater circuit this summer.
"So I might come back in July and August for a few," he says. "I think I'll have a really good bead on it after January or so."
Among the fans at the Palace this week will be his 13-year-old son, Cole, and 11-year-old daughter, Samantha -- who have been watching Dad on tour "literally with their jaws dropped," Seger says with a laugh.
But he knows they won't be the only adoring observers in the house as he returns for his first hometown dates since Pine Knob in June 1996.
"My only fear in Detroit," Seger says, "is that we won't be able to hear ourselves because of the audience."
Flint homeboy Craig Frost looks forward to his four Detroit performances with Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band with a mixture of excitement and a little dread.
"Of course, you know it's one of the loudest shows crowd-wise. That's kind of cool. It's very cool. It's always good to play in the hometown. It's wonderful," says the keyboardist, who'll accompany Seger Wednesday, Friday and Dec. 28 and 30 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The downside? "The after-show thing is just crazy in Detroit," Frost said incredulously from a tour stop in Atlanta. "You can't even walk through the place. That's the crazy part. Everybody wants to come backstage."
Frost has experienced the "after-show thing" at various Detroit venues over his nearly 27-year run with Seger. Though they've toured only twice in the past 20 years -- this is their first since 1996 - The Palace shows should be no different.
The tour, in support of Seger's new "Face the Promise" CD, is selling out arenas and earning raves across the South and Midwest. Frost admitted in an interview from Atlanta that he used to worry their touring days were over.
"Let's face it, when I heard Bob sing at the Rock and Roll hall of Fame, he didn't sound very good," he said, referring to Seger's 2004 induction ceremony performance. "You could tell he hadn't sung in a while. It's a muscle. You've got to keep that thing going. I was worried. I didn't think we'd ever tour again, but he surprised me."
Now, he said, Seger's husky tenor is strong again, thanks to extensive rehearsals and performing. "He's singing great," Frost raved. The audiences, he added, are "having a ball."
So is Seger, who took the long hiatus to stay home in suburban Detroit with his wife, Nita, and their kids, son Cole, 13, and daughter Samantha, 11. "I've never seen him have so much fun. Generally, in the past, he doesn't like to tour. He never really has. This time, he's really enjoying himself," Frost said, noting that Seger uses a private jet to fly home after each gig.
While the 58-year-old keyboard player - who had Thanksgiving dinner at the Fenton Hotel, and has a daughter, three brothers, a sister and his mom in the Flint area -- is having a blast on this tour, he admitted it was tough to give up the comfortable life he was leading at his home near Tecumseh. "The older we get, we get set in our ways. I like to have my own remote, my own bed to sleep in, I want my kitty on my lap," he said.
This tour already has had its share of highlights. Frost has been playing accordion on a Cajun-flavored version of Seger's "Sightseeing," something he'd never done before. He also performed on "The Tonight Show" last September - Seger's first network TV appearance - with his son, Matthew, a 19-year-old University of Miami music major, playing keyboards next to him. "That was way cool," the proud papa said. "Matt's very capable, very gifted. He's going to do something in his life."
The tour also reunites him with drummer and fellow Flint native Don Brewer, with whom Frost played in Grand Funk Railroad from 1972-76. They also played in the Silver Bullet Band on Seger's 1983 tour. "Brewer's perfect for this. It's one of the toughest jobs, being a drummer in this band. ... He commands it," Frost said.
He's not sure what the future holds. The tour is expected to end in March in Detroit. After that, who knows? "I can't picture him (doing this much longer), not at these 10-year intervals we do now. He'd be 70. I can't picture doing anything like that," Frost said of the 61-year-old Seger.
Frost, who would be 68, isn't worried about that right now. "The fact that I get to do this again, it's a treat," he said. "That and the fact that Bob's up for this, and the band sounds amazing."
Keyboardist Craig Frost has been with the Silver Bullet Band 25 years and has lived in Bedford Township for 20 of those years.
As Bob Seger plays for the hometown crowd once again, so does Temperance resident Craig Frost, longtime keyboardist for the Silver Bullet Band.
Mr. Frost has been with the band since 1980 and is taking the stage with the singer as he performs at the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday and Dec. 28 and 30. The first concert in the Palace series was Wednesday night.
Detroit legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mr. Seger released "Face the Promise," his first studio album in 11 years, in September and started touring in November.
Mr. Frost grew up in Flint and moved to Bedford Township in 1985.
He started off as a drummer, he told The Evening News' sister publication, Bedford Now, last year. "But there were too many drummers in Flint. Then I started on piano. My grandmother sent over an upright to our home. It just sort of happened. I can't read a note, so I never took a lesson," he said.
Before joining the Silver Bullet Band, he played with Grand Funk Railroad during its heyday, including on its most famous song "We're an American Band."
The band broke up in the late 1970s, and Mr. Frost eventually joined up with Mr. Seger.
"I tried out with about 13 guys," he said of his first audition for the band. A second one followed a few days after.
"Halfway through the first song, Bob says, 'You're the guy,' " Mr. Frost told Bedford Now.
"Seger worked (for me) better because it wasn't four guys with opinions," Mr. Frost said.
"This was Seger's band. You got to play what you wanted to play, unless he would say, 'I see what you're trying to do, but I'd like something else.' Bob's a good guy. He's demanding, but he doesn't act like it," he said.
In between performances, Mr. Frost said he likes life in Bedford.
"I like it here," he said, looking out at the snow-covered fields and trees just beyond his kitchen window last year. "It's quiet."
Most of the other band members stay in or around the Detroit area, but Mr. Frost says he prefers the "country life."
He also said he liked being close to Toledo.
Mr. Frost isn't the only one who likes the quiet life. Mr. Seger's home in Clarkston is situated on 20 acres of land surrounded by wetlands.
In September, Mr. Seger told The Associated Press he was excited to have the Silver Bullet Band back at his studio practicing.
They haven't really played together since the band helped him record a 1997-98 album that never was released; none of those songs showed up on this record, he told the AP.
In preparation for the tour, the band practiced daily at Mr. Seger's home before the album's release.
"Face the Promise" is at No. 65 on the Billboard 200 list, up from No. 67 last week. It's been on the chart for 13 weeks and peaked at No. 4.