With a brand new album still in progress, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band are making due with that old time rock 'n' roll on their spring tour -- which was just fine with the 8,200 fans who attended opening night Saturday (Mar. 26) at the sold-out Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.
Starting the two-month trek just over four years to the day his last tour -- supporting 2006's "Face the Promise" album -- wrapped, Seger and company delivered an energetic and exhaustive 25-song, two-hour and 15-minute show that began with the anthemic travelogue "Roll Me Away" and spanned his career with a few surprises stirred into the usual mix of favorites. After all, the 65-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is one of those rarefied performers who has built a large canon of hits -- "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," "Old Time Rock and Roll," "We've Got Tonight," "Turn the Page," "Katmandu," "Against the Wind," "Hollywood Nights," "Night Moves" -- that absolutely have to be played or he won't get out of the building alive.
Those were all there, but Seger also used the tour opener for the live debut of "Downtown Train," his version of the Tom Waits song that he recently released as an appetizer for the new album, and "Gets Ya Pumpin' " from the 2010 compilation "Early Seger Vol. 1." He also brought out the "Against the Wind" album track "Good For Me," "Night Moves' " "Come to Poppa" and his powerhouse rendition of Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" as well as "Her Strut," which Seger, in a rare misstep, introduced as being from 1978's "Stranger in Town" when it's actually on "Against the Wind."
Those kinds of opening night foibles were few and far between, however, as Seger and the Silver Bullets appeared honed and well-rehearsed, bolstering the tight arrangements with solos by saxophonist Alto Reed, keyboardist Craig Frost and guitarist Mark Chatfield and, on several songs, muscular support from the four-piece Motor City Horns. The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" gave Seger's three backup vocalists the spotlight while he took a break, and performances of Otis Clay's "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You," Chuck Berry's "C'est La Vie," "Sunspot Baby," "Horizontal Bop" and the fail-safe coupling of "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser" remained reliable crowd-pleasers.
And when he inserted the line "sweet 16 turns 65" in the show-closing "Rock and Roll Never Forgets," Seger sounded gobsmacked that he's still rocking at retirement age -- but certainly not complaining about it.
The Seger tour continues Tuesday in Saginaw, Mich., and is currently slated to wrap on May 21 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit. Seger plans to return to work on the album during the summer and told Billboard.com that he's also considering a fall tour "if we have fun" on the current outing.
Bob Seger's opening night set list included:
Roll Me Away
Tryin' To Live My Life Without You
Old Time Rock and Roll
Ramblin Gamblin' Man
C'est La Vie
Good For Me
Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser
Nutbush City Limits
Come to Poppa
It's Your Thing
Gets Ya Pumpin'
Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight
We've Got Tonight
Turn the Page
Against the Wind
Rock and Roll Never Forgets