Almost a week after the Bob Seger show at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, I’m caught myself thinking about the show, and how soulful and energized the Detroit rock icon was.
He played 2 hours, 20 minutes, and mixed the setlist up just enough to make it interesting with some deep cuts. Seger played to the back of the hall as much as the front row. And he did both. We weren’t standing close, though dead-ahead center with the stage, 20 yards behind the soundboard.
When I saw him in 2006, I found a happy place in the top row of the upper deck, with a straight on view of the stage. I had moved four songs into that show that November night, after having heard enough of the muddy sound the venue is so famous – that’s what a cheap upper deck, side stage ticket from a scalper 10 minutes before the show will sometimes get you. But once I relocated, it was magical. Because Seger is about the voice, the songs and the band. Not the flash, the light show or the wardrobe changes.
Last Saturday night, Seger reinvested in the heartland rock and roll that he does better than anyone else, and has formed the template for hundreds (thousands) of bands. And, defying a bit of age and both the good and band of having spent so much of his life on a stage, he did that magical rock and roll thing again, aided mightily by a crowd that knew that songs, and songs that are still rock and roll relevant.
Is it cool to like Bob Seger? It is to me.
Three good things about the show:
1. No video screens. Makes the crowd follow the music and musicians in a more organic way. I can’t overstate the difference it makes in a show when eyes and ears are your own, not owned by the video director.
2. Kudos to Seger for pulling out some nuggets to play: from “Against the Wind”, “Shinin’ Brightly” was stellar, and “Long Twin Silver Line” nearly as good. And he reached back to do “Heavy Music” (one that he might have passed by if he wanted) and “Ramblin’ Gamblin Man”.
3. “”Beautiful Loser” into “Travelin’ Man” – just like on Live Bullet – is some of the best seven minutes of rock and roll he does.
Sound mix? Typical Conseco Fieldhouse style; too erratic. I was straight back from the stage, in lower level, and mix bounced from clean to muddy to clean to muddy too many times. Could have used more Seger in the mix. His voice is still strong.
Band? They rocked. Crowd? Friendly, old, and into the show. Seger? Unduly unappreciated by anyone under 40 years old. He is a link between Chuck Berry and anyone playing three-chord guitar rock and roll today. Seger predates Mellencamp, Springsteen and the rest who get more love than he does. He first stepped on a stage in 1961. For Bob to still do what he does, with the passion and energy he showed Saturday night, borders on amazing.
REVIEW FROM NUVO.NET by Wade Coggeshall
A woman attending Bob Seger’s concert Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse related to someone in her aisle how she tried to get her father, a huge fan, to go with her. I’m too old, he told her. Her reply: “Well Dad, how the hell old do you think Seger is!”
In fact, he turned 66 on May 6. That’s not an age you normally equate with rock and roll. In the case of Seger, it’s just a number. He may have taken a decade sabbatical to raise two children and he hasn’t been able to kick cigarettes yet, but the Motor City legend is still in fine form.
Saturday night was a stellar showcase, not just of Seger’s deep and eclectic music catalog, but the talents of his Silver Bullet Band. Over two-plus hours, they blazed through the funky “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You” and “Come to Poppa” to the barrel-chested “Long Twin Silver Line” and the jazzy “Katmandu.”
Seger’s voice still retains that signature rasp, and hasn’t lost any of its punch. Nor has the man himself. He was in fighting form all evening, shadow-boxing with the music and multiple times raising his fists in triumph at the enthralling racket he and his band were making.
Immensely aiding the proceedings was a four-man horn section and three backing female vocalists. As one person in attendance said, a horn section makes any song better.
That goes double for Alto Reed, Seger’s saxophonist since 1971. On a crowd-moving rendition of “Old Time Rock and Roll,’ he traded searing solos with lead guitarist Mark Chatfield. He handled the signature guitar line of “Main Street” with his sax and performed an impromptu embellishment on “Turn the Page” when Seger forgot part of the lyrics.
Seger could’ve rehashed his greatest hits and still have plenty to fill a setlist. But for someone still in writing and performing mode, he’s used this spring tour to display what has unmistakably been a prolific career. The gospel-steeped “Good for Me” fit right in, followed immediately by the seldom-played chestnut “Shinin’ Brightly” and the one-two punch of “Travelin’ Man” and “Beautiful Loser” that made Seger’s Live Bullet one of the most acclaimed live albums ever.