SAGINAW -- The second time -- and a return to Michigan terra firma -- were apparently the charms for Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band.
After a solid but still-room-for-improvement opening of its spring tour on Saturday (March 26) in Toledo, Seger and company were significantly stronger and noticeably more confident on Tuesday (March 29) at the Dow Events Center in Saginaw, perhaps a little farther his Detroit home turf than Toledo but, crucially, on the right side of the state line. And that seemed to make all the difference in the world.
"I apologize if we played too long, but we LOVE playing in Michigan," Seger told the sold-out crowd before the final encore, "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," and that love was returned by an ebullient and cheerfully rowdy group of fans that were even more stoked than their counterparts to the south to see Seger in the flesh again. The Dow's configuration, which put the crowd right on to of the stage and in the face of Seger and the Silver Bullets, certainly contributed to the energized performance, too.
And it was a longer show thanks to the addition of one song -- "Shinin' Brightly," the closing track from 1980's Grammy Award-winning "Against the Wind" album that Seger said was being played live for the first time ever. "That only took 31 years to make the stage," Seger cracked afterwards, but the song -- its soulful, Van Morrison flavor accented by the Motor City Horns -- fit nicely between another "Against the Wind" rarity, "Good For Me," and the "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser," adding a gem that Seger will hopefully make a permanent addition to the set.
The other 25 songs were the same that Seger performed in Toledo, but in tighter and more muscular renditions that whipped up a fierce, "Live Bullet" kind of excitement. Seger -- sporting a Detroit Tigers T-shirt and, later, a Harley Davidson 03 jersey -- was looser and clearly having a great time, smiling from start to finish and tossing sweat-soaked headbands into the crowd throughout the show. It was only the second show in, but the group sounded in mid-tour form, and backstage after the concert the musicians were predicting it will only get better from here on out.
Seger's tour continues Thursday (March 31) back in Toledo and concludes with dates May 17, 19 and 21 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tickets are available for all three shows; call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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