Bob Seger Concert Review
There were no giant video screens. The sound system was a tad muddled. A voice announced to the 15,000+ in the Xcel Enery Center to "Please take your seats. The show will begin in five minutes!".
There was even a brief intermission in the midle of the set ("Why do we take and intermission, people ask? Because I'm very, very old!" said the grey haired, bespeckled, somewhat paunchy man commanding the stage).
We even had a long-haired, bearded, 70's era lookalike two seats in front us, snapping pictures with people and loving the attention.
Ask yourselves, concert goers, when does any of the aforementioned ever happen at a show these days?
Something tells me Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band caught a certain vibe while gigging back in the seventies at such venues as Detroit's Cobo Hall (captured famously - and brilliantly - on 76's "Live Bullet"). And if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
And believe me, it still works.
As I sat (well I stood the entire show) main floor at the X Thursday night, even after already being there two hours, after years of experiencing Springsteen, AC/DC, Rush, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and countless others, after working in the concert/radio industry a loooonnnggg time: I still stood in awe, thinking to myself my God, it's Bob Seger!
The choppy videos you can see of the tour thus far on youtube did have me a bit concerned as they present his voice as being lower, mumblier, less than stellar.
But the second he belted out the last chorus line to the show's opener - a breathtaking Roll Me Away - you were left thinking "yep. That's him all right".
(It was immediately after that number that the old master showman would tighten his grip on the crowd: referring to a line in Roll Me Away- "twelve hours out of Macinau City stopped at a bar to have a brew!" -he says to the audience "Know what's twelve hours out of Macinau City? ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA!").
So yes, he was energetic, seemingly happy and in very fine voice. The 14-piece Silver Bullet Band - three backup singers, five man horn section, two drummers and four guitarists - were lush and lucid (during the first encore, Against The Wind, my date and I looked at one other simultaneously and said "My God, it sounds exactly like the record!").
Mainstreet, Turn The Page, Night Moves, Rock and Roll Never Forgets, We've Got Tonight, Fire Inside, Come to Poppa, Horizontal Bop, Travelin' man/Beautiful Loser - all present and nicely accounted for.
And the crowd? As age-diverse and stylistically diverse as any I've ever experienced.
In my row alone, you had me, then drunk biker guy and his chick, then 60ish, upper middle class couple, then two ecstatic teenage guys who tore their shirts off and thrashed to every lyric.
And the people were LOUD! As I've stated, I've been around a while, and I've never experienced a crowd the point of audible discomfort.
Seger had been saying that as the tour rolled on, he'd be pulling out some old gems, some Silver Bullet hadn't performed in years, if at all. Yet after monitoring his various setlists over the past weeks, he really hadn't done so.
That is, until last night.
Why he chose St. Paul, who knows? But midway through the set, he began introducing a series of deeper cuts off Night Moves and Against The Wind that as a huge fan I wasn't even totally familiar with.
Yes, the crowd mellowed a bit, but if you had any doubts about his craftmanship, he would punctuate the end of the main set by delaring "It's time head up hiiiigggghhhhh! Way, way high! To a place called KAT-MAN-DU!!!".
The following encores would give us Night Moves, Against The Wind (and again that one particularly spot-on) and Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
A two and a half hour show. He says he might not tour again.
So I'm beyond happy that I saw him when I did. That I waited decades.
Because over that time, I may have built an epic, mythical, renewing experince in my head.
He lived up.