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Review: Bob Seger back at 1st Mariner Arena after 32 years

12:48 PM EST, November 26, 2011

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Reporter Chris Kaltenbach reviews a concert by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band at 1st Mariner Arena November 25.

Funny thing about reviewing Bob Seger in concert: his song titles pretty-much write the review themselves: “Old Time Rock & Roll,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Rock & Roll Never Forgets,” “Night Moves.”

If only he had recorded Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” my work would be done.

Thirty-two years after last playing 1st Mariner (it was known as the Civic Center back then), Seger and his Silver Bullet Band proved conclusively that rock and roll knows no age or expiration date. From the opening cymbal clash of “Feel Like a Number” to the final sax blare of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” Seger kept the near-sold-out crowd rocking like nobody’s business.

Although leaning heavily on his output from 1981 and earlier, this was no staid oldies show, but rather a reaffirmation of the staying power of great music, and the timeless appeal of a tireless showman who never gives less than his all.

To a level largely unmatched among his peers, Seger puts his audience at ease. He doesn’t have the charisma of Springsteen, the moves of Jagger, the force of Bono or the puckishness of McCartney.

What he does have is a sincerity that’s hard to miss, a feeling that he’s having as much fun performing as the audience is having listening. Whether raising his arms in triumph during “Sunspot Baby,” getting the audience to sing along during “The Fire Down Below” or bopping along to the propulsive power of “Hollywood Nights” (a song that defines the term “driving beat”), Bob Seger represents rock and roll at its purest, and most accessible.

That, and he’s been responsible for some tremendous songs, too. Any man who can pen “Night Moves” deserves to be regarded as a national treasure.

True, Seger’s rasp didn’t pack the surprising power that it once did, which is why a song like the aching “Beautiful Loser” doesn’t pack the emotional punch it used to deliver.

But on the mournful “Turn the Page,” Seger still sounds like a singer talking one last shot at the brass ring, his voice seeming to draw power from the audience’s collective goodwill. The song is sublime, as is its effect on the listener.

The evening’s highlights were many: the impromptu audience sing-along during “Turn the Page,” Alto Reed’s seductive saxophone on “Mainstreet,” the jam that kept things rocking while Seger took a brief offstage respite during “Travelin’ Man,” lead guitarist Kenny Greenberg’s ferocious playing during the main set closer, the crowd-pleasing “Katmandu.”

By the time Seger and the Silver Bullets came back for their second encore, “Night Moves,” it was clear that, indeed rock and roll does never forget. Thank God for large favors.

Set list:

"Feel Like a Number”
Otis Clay’s “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You”
“The Fire Down Below”
“Mainstreet”
“Old Time Rock & Roll”
“The Little Drummer Boy”
“Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”
Little Richard’s “Hey Hey Hey Hey! (Goin’ Back to Birmingham)”
 “Travelin’ Man"
“Beautiful Loser”
“We’ve Got Tonight”
Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits”
“Come to Poppa”
 “Her Strut”
Vince Gill’s “Real Mean Bottle”
"Turn the Page”
“Sunspot Baby”
“Roll Me Along”
“Katmandu”
 
Encore:
“Against the Wind”
“Hollywood Nights”
“Night Moves”
“Rock and Roll Never Forgets”