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Bob Seger, fans, celebrate homecoming at the Palace
AUBURN HILLS -- Bob Seger didn't waste any time telling the Palace crowd that "it's great to be home."
And that probably wasn't as great as the 16,100 at Tuesday's (May 17) show -- the first of three at the Palace -- felt having him and his Silver Bullet Band back where they come from.
Sweet 16, as Seger sings in "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," has turned 66 -- earlier this month, in fact. But the nearly two-and-a-half hour concert was a celebration of agelessness, both of Seger's music and how it makes his fans feel when they hear it. It was the same kind of lovefest that happens every time Seger and company plan in metro Detroit, amplified by a long absence (it's been four years since he wrapped his last tour at Cobo Arena) and perhaps by his recent talk of packing it in for good as a touring act.
And while success to the tune of 50 million albums sold means Seger has plenty of fans all over the country, and the world, it's different back in Michigan and especially in the Detroit area. This is where his greatest hits were written or conceived, and where his fans feel a particularly personal attachment to them. They've been to the Ann Arbor he sings about in "Main Street" and to "the cornfields where the woods got heavy" in "Night Moves." And the mention of Woodward Avenue in "Horizontal Bop" was no more name-check to the Palace crowd. They're warm moments of nostalgia, for sure, but that Seger is still here and singing them is also an affirmation that his brand of rock 'n' roll has a life beyond youth and still resonates with adult sensibilities.
All of that heady relevance, however, was hardly top of mind on Tuesday at the Palace. The order of the evening was waving fists during the choruses of "Roll Me Away," dancing to "The Fire Down Below," "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and "Old Time Rock and Roll," and singing along to virtually every one of the 24 songs Seger and the Silver Bullets played. And in this particular venue that meant even to more obscure and rarely performed gems such as "Shinin' Brightly," "Real at the Time" and "Long Twin Silver Line." But if you were looking for a real Moment, it came during "Turn the Page," as the echo of the crowd lent an extra layer of hear to the song's soulful throb.
Twenty-two shows into the tour, Seger and the band -- who are recording the Palace shows and planning to film on Saturday (May 21) were honed and tight, confidently burning through the dynamics of the "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser" tandem, Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," "Her Strut," "Sunspot Baby" and "Katmandu" and then downshifting for the mellow likes of "Good For Me" and "We've Got Tonight" without sacrificing momentum. The four-piece Motor City Horns provided extra oomph on most of the numbers, while solos by guitarist Mark Chatfield, saxophonist Alto Reed and keyboardist Craig Frost provided instrumental highlights -- all powered by Don Brewer's powerhouse drumming. Seger, sporting a navy-and-orange Harley Davidson T-shirt at the beginning of the night and a black sleeveless shirt for most of the show, showed some vestiges of a cold during the main set -- he acknowledged its impact before "Turn the Page," promising that "I'm doing the best I can" -- though it took an audible toll during the encores.
By then, however, the crowd was carrying "Against the Wind," "Hollywood Nights," "Night Moves" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets." Nobody, it seemed, was going to let any kind of virus spoil this homecoming.
Seger and the Silver Bullet Band perform again at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at the Palace. Jill Jack opens Thursday's show; Frankie Ballard opens on Saturday. Some tickets are available for both shows at $69. Call 313-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band's first-night setlist at the Palace included:
"Roll Me Away"
"Tryin' To Live My Life Without You"
"The Fire Down Below"
"Old Time Rock and Roll"
"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"
"Real at the Time"
"Good For Me"
"Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser"
"Nutbush City Limits"
"Come to Poppa"
"Twin Silver Line"
"We've Got Tonight"
"Turn the Page"
"Against the Wind"
"Rock and Roll Never Forgets"
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