AUBURN HILLS -- It was apparently 77 degrees when Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band played in Dayton on Tuesday night, April 9.
"That means it's getting warmer," an ebullient Seger told the crowd at The Palace on Thursday, April 11, during the first of two homecoming shows on his Rock and Roll Never Forgets Tour. "Summer's coming!"
Clearly Seger hadn't spent much time outside in Michigan the previous couple of days. But with temperatures south of 40 degrees outside as he and the group cranked into "Long Twin Silver Line," Seger had no problem heating up The Palace, his home town hero status reaffirmed with each successive singalong during the trim and energetic 20-song, hour-and-50-minute concert.
It was a different kind of show than Seger and the Silver Bullets started the tour with in late February. To accommodate opener Joe Walsh, Seger has trimmed 20 minutes and four songs from the set -- but to good effect. Thursday's show was tightly and unwavering; even with a couple new songs -- the autobiographical original "All of the Roads" and a cover of the Wilco/Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie collaboration "California Stars" from an album he said would be out "by the end of August, if we're lucky" -- Seger and company cruised through the night with the kind of high-octane propulsion that's been his stock in trade for well over four decades now.
The hits came fast and furious throughout the show, from Otis Clay's "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You" to "Mainstreet," "Roll Me Away," the "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser" medley, "We've Got Tonight" and the iconic "Turn the Page." Seger dedicated "Old Time Rock and Roll" to Evie Branan, the 79-year-old Flint woman who's first wish after emerging from a coma two years ago was to go to a Seger concert; she was there to hear it, and was evening hanging at the post-show party in the Palace Grille.
And Nashville guitarist Rob McNelley, the newest Silver Bullet member, nailed the slide guitar feature during "Like a Rock" and delivered fierce solos on rockers such as "Sunspot Baby" and "Katmandu." Seger's voice faltered towards the end of the show, but the familiarity of encores such as "Against the Wind," "Hollywood Nights," "Night Moves" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" helped the group push past that issue.
Like the man said early on -- "It's so good to be home!" And home didn't let Seger down.
Walsh's 45-minute opening set, meanwhile, proved worthy of Seger's sacrifice. Excepting "Band Play On" from his 2012 album "Analog Man," Walsh -- in strong voice and abundant, self-deprecating good humor -- and his nine-piece band trawled through 70s favorites from the James Gang ("Walk Away," "Funk #49"), the Eagles ("In The City") and a closing trio of his own hits ("Turn To Stone," "Life's Been Good," "Rocky Mountain Way") that showed his guitar prowess was as sharp as it's ever been, making him a definite value-plus proposition for the evening.
Some tickets, priced $85 and $65, remain for Seger and Walsh's second show, on Saturday, April 13, at the Palace. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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