Though still reeling from Tuesday night’s Monster Ball, we weren’t quite ready to go back to The ‘Stone for another night of beer-drenched festivities. But, really, what kind of music fans would we be if we turned down an opportunity to turn the page, run against the wind and work our night moves with The Sege? Making our way into the arena minutes before the house went dark, the stroll to our seats was about as casual as Seger’s to the stage — which featured about as bare-bones a set-up as we’ve ever seen at an arena show. (There weren’t even screens for the nose-bleeders.)
Iconically under-dressed in his trademark jeans and jersey-T — which later gave way to a black bandanna and sleeveless shirt, making him look like an aged Eddie Wilson — the salty-haired singer (now 65) didn’t offer much in the way of dazzling eye candy. But what he and his 14-piece Silver Bullet backing band — complete with auxiliary singers, a horn section and, as Homer Simpson would say, the "competent" drumming of Grand Funk Railroad’s Don Brewer — lacked in sights, they made up in sound. Almost every selection of the show’s 26-song hit parade — from an opening “Roll Me Away” to a closing “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” — was performed in classy, true-to-form fashion. And with Seger’s voice — the auditorily archetypal, soulful, heartland-rock grumble from the guts ... or the heart — sounding as rough-hewn and golden-brown coming out of the PA last night as it does when coming off the FM airwaves (as it inevitably is at any given moment somewhere in America), it was easy to embrace the musical moment.
With the exception of his latest single — an emotionally embellished cover of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train” — and the 2006, Vince Gill-penned duet with Kid Rock* “Real Mean Bottle,” Seger didn’t (if memory serves) play a single song written in the last 25 years. But, really, that’s the way it should’ve been. Whether pouring his heart into an acoustic “Mainstreet,” a rocker like “Betty Lou’s Getting out Tonight,” obligatory, indelible hits like “Turn the Page,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Against the Wind,” and “Night Moves,” or raving it up during “Hollywood Nights” and classic covers like “”Trying to Live My Life Without You,” Chuck Berry’s “Never Can Tell” and Ike & Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits,” Seger & Co. appropriately gave the crowd all the comforting meat and potatoes they salivated for. And fans of five generations responded by singing back choruses with gang vocals 15,000 voices strong.
Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a massive mass of Social Security-eligible Boomers rise from their seats, loose feet, and arrhythmically impersonate the Caddyshack gopher to the step-inducing sounds of “Old Time Rock & Roll.” That said, we were more than a little disappointed that our section opted to sit during “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”
But seriously, who are we gonna have to sing us their 43-year-old first single when we’re in our 60s?
*And, yes, Kid Rock did, to the crowd’s delight — but not ours — make an appearance to join Seger for “Bottle.” And yes, it was a moment we could’ve done without, but it could’ve been a lot worse. They could’ve played “Bawita-Bob.”