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Concert Reviews:
Seger And Silver Bullet Band Return Triumphant
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK





AUBURN HILLS - A knowingly placed recording of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town," playing at fullvolume 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-certifi ed "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.



Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, with opening act Steve Azar, perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Dec. 30 and at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 28. Tickets are sold out but premium seats are being auctioned at www.ticketmaster. com. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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