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Bob Seger rolls into The Palace for homecoming show

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Bob Seger does not mind admitting that he's "probably the least crazy about being on the road of anybody in the band."

But it's those members of the Silver Bullet Band that keep him coming back to the road -- three times since 2011, and since mid-November on his current Ride Out Tour.

"I have a great time on stage," says Seger, 69, leaning back in a plush leather chair in the house on the northern Oakland County property he uses for writing and some recording, about 12 miles from the home where he lives with wife Nita and children Cole and Samantha. Seger duly dubs this incarnation of the Silver Bullet Band the best ever, declaring that, "The thing I look forward to is playing with these people. They're so much fun to play with and be with and they make my job easy 'cause they play great and sing great. So that's attractive."

Attractive to Seger and his fans, of course. By the time he and the Silver Bullet Band roll into the Palace of Auburn Hills on Thursday, March 26, they'll have played 38 shows, with just one more to go, two days later in Nashville, before this current tour wraps. It's been a success at the box office and has playe dto mostly rave reviews with criticsn particularly complimented the quality of Seger's voice a full 50 years into his performing career.

But that voice, Seger says, will be the determining factor for how much longer he'll be willing to stay on the road. He's talked about retiring as far back as the mid-80s, but it's taken a more earnest tone in recent years, as he approaches his 70th birthday on May 6 -- so much so that some have read imminent retirement as the message behind reflective new songs such as "All of the Roads," "Let the Rivers Run" and "Ride Out's" title track.

No firm decision has been made yet, stresses Seger; the idea of more shows this summer hasn't been ruled out, in fact. But he's certainly established a criteria for making that decision.

"The big deciding factor for whether I leave or don't leave is my voice, whether it holds up," Seger, cradling a pack of cigarettes, lighter and a steel ashtray in his right hand. "So far so good; I'm really happy with the way I'm sounding, and really, really happy with how good the band's playing. Everybody's just on board. Everybody's just so committed. They show up ready to play, and it's wonderful.

"So we'll see. I just want to be graceful about it, you know what I mean? I don't want to stay too long, that's all. So we'll see."

Seger's certainly taking care of his voice these days, he says. "I'm doing my lozenges and gargle and my warm-ups not speaking at all. I've got to have my two-hour nap before the show. It's not always a nap; I jsut don't talk. It's 'Everybody get out fo ther oom' and if I can sleep that's better becuase I don't smoke and I can warm up for the show real gradually."

The conundrum, of course, is the loyalty he feels to the other Silver Bullets. "I feel kind of responsible for everybody that goes on the road with me," he explains. "I feel like they make the most money with me and that's important to me, and they play adn work their hearts out for me. So I want to make sure they're taken care of a little bit. That's a factor."

Whether this proves to be his famous final scene or not, the "Ride Out" campaign has certainly been a winning one for Seger. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 -- Seger's best showing since "Like a Rock" in 1986 -- and at No. 1 on the Rock Albums chart. He's also made more TV appearances in support if it than he has in nearly his entire career combined, including on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "CBS This Morning" and a "CMT Crossroads" episode with Jason Aldean.

"It's nerve-wracking," Seger says of TV. "They're patient with us, and they all say, 'Oh, yeah, if anthing goes wrong we'll let you fix it.' Bulls**. You get one shot. They allw ant to go home...so you get one friggin' shot and it's really nerve-wracking; 'Oh God, I hope the voice is right and we don't choke.'

"And, you know, we don't. I gotta tell ya, it's been really great, and I'm just enjoying it so much. We all are."

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band and Whitey Morgan

7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75.

Tickets are $95 and $75.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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