(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - June 12th, 2019)
When compiling a list of things that are uniquely Michigan, any good indexer would include Bob Seger.
And if evidence is wanted of his Detroit Music Legend status, one would have to look no further than the sold-out, six-show run at DTE Energy Music Theater, located, as of early June, at 33 Bob Seger Drive.
And it was the third of these six shows that I, my mother, a few friends, and a couple thousand fans had the privilege of seeing last Wednesday.
Absolutely insane construction traffic saw us arrive late to the venue, missing the opening act altogether. Pity. I’m sure they were excellent. The upshot, of course, was that there was less time to wait until the main event.
Bob Seger took the stage sporting the Casual Grandpa look – a t-shirt, jeans, and all-white hair. Opener ‘Shakedown’ featured killer horns, but the music seemed quiet, like maybe the speakers weren’t working.
But you could tell Seger was having fun up there, pumping his fists along to the music, clapping his hands, and baring down on the microphone like the rockstar he is.
His first address to the crowd was an enthusiastic “Michigaaaaaan!” met with lots of cheers.
That’s our boy.
Saxophone player extraordinaire Alto Reed crushed ‘Main Street,’ a number for which Seger strummed an acoustic guitar. ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ was the first of the crowd pleasers, inciting lots of over-the-head clapping and singing.
All the singing seemed to suit Bob, who relied on us on and off throughout the night, making up for an occasionally waning voice. But you can’t fault a guy for being a little quiet when he has so much enthusiasm and sheer joy of performing.
After plugging a love of motorcycles, he gave us ‘Roll Me Away’ and the best vocal performance of the night thus far. At this point, I noticed a father and daughter a little ways down the row; she couldn’t have been older than ten, and they looked like they were having a great time. Props to them.
‘Come to Poppa’ was an old blues cover which hit me in a weird spot because my own Papa – a huge Seger fan – couldn’t make the show. Next came ‘Like a Rock,’ which had originally been written as a reflection on Bob’s high school track and field career before Chevy turned it into an ad spot.
Seger played to the height of his ability, knocking it completely out of the park. The set list was sprinkled with fun tidbits of behind the scenes information, like that ‘You’ll Accompany Me’ hadn’t been played live in thirty years. And the band sounded great!
It was right around this time that Bob donned a hilarious black sweatband, looking like he could just as easily lead an exercise class as give us the second half of a rock show.
I also found out that ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ is not only Mama Seger’s favorite tune, but apparently an excellent couples’ skate song. The band stole the show on ‘Travelin’ Man’ and Seger was in good voice for ‘Beautiful Loser.’
But it paled in comparison to what came after. ‘Turn the Page’ is my personal favorite Bob Seger song, and the delight at hearing it done live – and done so well – was immense.
Everyone else was just as excited, too, because they sang – loudly and early – beating Bob to the opening lyrics by a measure or two. There was Alto Reed again, with that iconic saxophone line that pushed this bittersweet ode to the touring musician over the top. Phenomenal.
If the show had ended there, I would have been perfectly content, but it wasn’t even close. A cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ featured a video montage honoring some of rock and roll’s recently deceased – Prince, Tom Petty, and hometown heroes Aretha Franklin and Glenn Frey, among others.
Speaking of Mr. Frey, it was mentioned that the late Eagle had sung back-up on “every recording you’ve ever heard” of ‘Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man.’ Seger introduced his all-star Silver Bullet Band to many applause for each. Several had been nominees or recipients of various Big Deal Awards, which was very cool.
As the night wore on – it was approaching 10:00pm – lightning began flashing in the sky, prompting some folks to head for the exit. But did Bob Seger care a lick about an approaching thunderstorm or your early wake-up call the next day?
“We’re gonna move Against the Wind, whaddaya say?” he asked by way of introducing the first of two encore sets. We cheered, of course. The intro to the subsequent, stellar ‘Hollywood Nights’ was just as epic: “Alright, Michigan! Road trip!” Isn’t that great?
In the end, the lightning got the better of us, and we listened to the final few numbers from the parking lot. During the last, he sang, “So now sweet sixteen’s turned seventy-four…”.
Based on the show I’d just seen, I’d say he was thirty-one every time it mattered the most.
The bottom line: “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” and neither do Detroit music fans.
Review by: Ashley J. Cicotte
Photos by: Robin Buckson & Ryan Garza (of the Detroit News)