Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band kicked off their final tour at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, giving diehard fans plenty for which to celebrate on Thanksgiving Eve. The review, photos at Local Spins.
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There isn’t much debate about it. It doesn’t get much more Michigan than Bob Seger.
And on a day officially declared “Bob Seger Day” in Grand Rapids, the spirited 73-year-old icon and his Silver Bullet Band kicked off their “Roll Me Away” farewell tour, thrilling a capacity crowd of around 12,000 at Van Andel Arena.
At times seated with his acoustic, at others behind the piano and at others energetically walking the stage, climbing onto the risers, leading the crowd in sing-alongs and pumping his fists in the air, the Michigan legend gave every ounce of energy he had to the Grand Rapids audience, unmistakably enjoying himself from start to finish (though he did appear to tire at the end).
If he ever faltered vocally, the crowd was there to pick him up. He didn’t falter often though, and his voice, as raspy, clean and true as ever, filled the arena on one classic cut after another.
As Seger fan and Barfly Ventures honcho Mark Sellers put it, Seger was “far better than the times I’ve seen him in recent years. He had a ton of energy on stage. He’s lost weight. The guitar player nailed every solo note for note. Great show.”
While Seger’s set list didn’t vary much from his last appearance at Van Andel 14 months ago — there were just four different songs played — no one in the audience seemed to mind in the least: They saw exactly what they came and expected to see, the beginning of what will no doubt be a long and memorable goodbye (which includes another show at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 5).
SOARING SAX SOLOS, SILVER BULLETS AND MORE
There were, of course, soaring Alto Reed saxophone solos — most notably those in “Mainstreet” and “Old Time Rock and Roll” — ripping guitar solos from CMA guitar player of the year Rob McNelley and plenty of fire from the rest of the Silver Bullet Band, a trio of backing singers and the four-piece Motor City Horns, the latter of which features Grand Rapids native Mark Byerly.
Variations on last year’s set list, included the first “Shame on the Moon” performed in 25 years, a nostalgic “Still the Same,” and a pair of dedications, including “The Fireman’s Talking,” sent out to “the people in California and the firefighters and first responders” affected by the ongoing massive raging wildfires.
Seger also dedicated a touching “I’ll Remember You” to the late Glenn Frey, a longtime friend and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who passed in 2016. During that number, a video montage rolled behind him that, in addition to photos of Seger and Frey throughout the years, showed pictures of recently departed musical icons such as Tom Petty and Aretha Franklin.
Musically, the rest was as the aforementioned song says, “Still the Same.” There was the segue of Willie Mitchell’s “Come to Poppa” into “Her Strut,” the four-song sequence of “We’ve Got Tonight” into “Travelin Man/Beautiful Loser” and “Turn the Page,” and both two-song encores, the first of which featured “Against the Wind” and “Hollywood Nights,” along with the show-closing “Night Moves” and perfectly fitting “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
And while much of the show had that expected, familiar ring to it, familiar is exactly what so many have been drawn to since Seger came up in the Detroit area in the 60s and 70s. The night was indeed poetic, in precisely that blue-collar fashion that’s resonated with Seger fans for years.
OPENING WITH THE WAR AND TREATY AND ANOTHER SEGER SHOW AHEAD
As one Michigan legend says goodbye, another Great Lakes act’s star is just beginning to rise.
Playing in front of perhaps the biggest non-festival audience they have played to date, Albion act The War and Treaty warmed up the evening with a five-song, 25-minute set that caught the slow-arriving crowd’s attention.
Cheers for personable and soulful Michael and Tanya Trotter and their backing band drew louder as their all-original set progressed, with Tanya hitting her far-reaching notes on “Til the morning” and the band closing things out with a rousing “Down to the River.” And The War and Treaty announced from the stage that they’ll be returning to Grand Rapids to play St. Cecilia Music Center on Feb. 24.
Read more about the band led by this dynamic duo and listen to a recent intimate concert as part of the HopCat presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios sessions.
For those who missed last night’s show, the “Travelin’ Man” will roll back through Grand Rapids one more time on Jan. 5 before he calls it quits. A few scattered single tickets remain available and numerous tickets, beginning at $126, are available on the secondary market. More shows are expected to be announced to the tour at a later date and a gamblin’ man would likely be safe to wager Seger will ramble through Detroit one last time.
THE SET LIST: Face the Promise, Still the Same, Fire Down Below, Mainstreet, Old Time Rock and Roll, The Fireman’s Talking, Shame on the Moon, Roll Me Away, Come to Poppa, Her Strut, Like a Rock, You’ll Accomp’ny Me, We’ve Got Tonight, Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser, Turn the Page, I’ll Remember You, Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man Encore: Against the Wind, Hollywood Nights Second Encore: Night Moves, Rock and Roll Never Forgets
PHOTO GALLERIES: Bob Seger, The War and Treaty at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Copyright 2018, Spins on Music LLC