Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
BB&T Center, Sunrise
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Better than: Most performers half his age.
Watching Bob Seger at a concert is like watching an old-fashioned preacher stir up a congregation.
"Give me that old-time rock 'n' roll!" Seger commanded his fans on Saturday night. It doesn't take much to convince the faithful to sing rock's praises. Over the course of nearly two stirring hours, he had the BB&T Center dancing, clapping, and standing spellbound with many of the great songs in his own hymnal. And when he wailed anthems like "Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets" and "Old Time Rock and Roll," along with a handful of newer songs from his current album Ride Out... well, suffice it to say, the message couldn't have been clearer. It just "soothes the soul."
To prove the point, Seger and the Silver Bullet Band put on the kind of show that defenders of the genre can point to as proof it's alive and kicking.
First, though, opening act Claire Dunn effectively put the crowd in an upbeat mood, garnering a standing ovation for her ringing take on the Led Zeppelin's chestnut "Rock and Roll" and an equally favorable reaction to her own "Cowboy Side of You." Looking and sounding like a less strident Melissa Etheridge, she demonstrated a poise and confidence that ought to elevate her and her able quartet another several notches up the food chain toward some serious success.
Next, Seger and company ripped through blazing versions of classics like "Roll Me Away," "Travelin' Man," "Fire Down Below," and "Hollywood Nights." Admittedly, these days, Seger may look more like your kindly uncle than the bearded long-haired rocker who first blazed a trail back in the early '70s. Yet, while he sits playing the acoustic guitar and carries himself with a slight shuffle, his rich, raspy voice remains undiminished. His white hair, sweatband, and spectacles betray his age -- he'll be 70 this year -- but his stature as a populist performer birthed and bred in the heartland remains undiminished.
As does his enthusiasm. Throughout the concert, Seger raised his arms triumphantly and allowed himself to get caught up in the pull of the music. "I'm a lucky man to play with these musicians every night," he beamed.
His Silver Bullet Band -- including longtime sax player/percussionist Alto Reed, original bassist Chris Campbell, keyboard player Craig Frost, and veteran Grand Funk Railroad member Don Brewer -- figures among the best in the biz, as reliable as Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and every bit as formidable. Guitarist Rob McNeely is especially notable; his slide work on "Like a Rock" -- a tune that once subbed as a popular truck commercial and that, Seger said, hasn't been played onstage in 27 years -- added the needed nuance to make the song shine.
Still, Reed remains the band's star. Whether strutting about playing an oversized instrument or making any oversized stage moves, Reed allows his presence to be known, especially when adding his trademark riffs to such songs as "Mainstreet," "Turn the Page," and other immortal entries in Seger's storied canon. Like Brewer, Reed is a longtime South Florida resident, and Seger himself owns a condo upstate, all reasons perhaps why the show resonated with both the performers and an appreciative audience.
Actually, that may be an understatement. The crowd literally sang along with all the more familiar fare, sometimes taking over the vocals completely. Even the lesser-known offerings -- a brilliant, horn-drenched cover of Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand" and a bluesy number dedicated to the late guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Hey Gypsy," among them -- were also received well. But it was the mid-'70s classics like "Beautiful Loser," "Turn the Page," and the ever-affecting "We've Got Tonight" that had the audience enthralled. And when the band lit into "Hollywood Nights" during the first of two encores, the crowd again went crazy. If indeed this is Seger's Last Ride, as he's dubbed this tour, the man's riding out in style.
Roll Me Away
Tryin' to Live My Life Without You
The Fire Down Below
The Devil's Right Hand
Old Time Rock and Roll
The Fireman's Talkin'
Come to Poppa
Like a Rock
Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser
All of the Roads
We've Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Against the Wind
Rock and Roll Never Forgets