Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band / Nov. 8, 2006 / Grand Rapids, Mich. (Van Andel Arena)

Rock'n'roll never forgets, they say. And Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band haven't forgotten how to rock'n'roll -- as evidenced by the opening show of their first tour in more than a decade.

Rock'n'roll never forgets, they say. And Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band haven't forgotten how to rock'n'roll -- as evidenced by the opening show of their first tour in more than a decade.

The veteran Detroit rocker returned to the stage for the first time since June of 1996 with a 25-song, two-hour and 10-minute marathon that thrilled the highly partisan home state crowd of nearly 13,000 at Van Andel Arena. They got lots of what they came to hear -- i.e., the hits -- but Seger and the Silver Bullets, now a 13-member corps with the addition of the four-piece Motor City Horns section, also dished up some ambitious surprises.

There was, primarily, plenty of fresh music from "Face the Promise," Seger's first set of new material since 1995. He followed the show's opening couplet of hits ("Roll Me Away" and his cover of Eugene Williams' "Tryin' to Live My Life Without You") with the new album's opening track, "Wreck This Heart" and played six others over the course of the evening, including a daring block of four in a row at one point.

Seger also pulled out, for the first time ever, his version of Chuck Berry's "C'Est La Vie," which he recorded for his first "Greatest Hits" album in 1994. A two-song, sit-down, "unplugged" style set featured "The Answer's in the Question" from "Face the Promise," with backing vocalist Laura Creamer handling Patti Loveless' duet part, and the Zydeco-flavored "Sightseeing" from 1991's "The Fire Inside," for which keyboardist Craig Frost strapped on an accordion.

There were more subtle sonic adventures, too, such as Alto Reed covering the electric guitar parts of "Night Moves" on his saxophone and the horn section pumping fresh, soulful energy into favorites such as "Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight," "Beautiful Loser," "Horizontal Bop" and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" -- an exciting addition to the Silver Bullet corps that merits even greater involvement.

And there was plenty of old time Seger rock'n'roll, as he lit up the crowd with, well, "Old Time Rock & Roll," "Mainstreet," "Sunspot Baby," "Katmandu," an effective pairing of "We've Got Tonight" and "Turn the Page," and solid encore renditions of "Hollywood Nights" and "Against the Wind."

Being off the road for so long has taken a bit of a toll on Seger, who started the evening sounding tentative but gained strength and confidence as the show rolled on. "First time in 10 years -- I need a little water," he apologized before "Wreck This Heart," while after "Old Time Rock & Roll," he exclaimed "That's only 20 percent of the show! You people our age know what I'm talking about." And, of course, he changed the lyric of "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" to "sweet 16 turnin' 61."

Nevertheless, Seger, who played guitar and piano on quite a few songs, worked hard enough to sweat through a series of headbands and was visibly energized by his return to the stage and by the ebullient crowd response -- so loud that the Silver Bullet Band members said it drowned out the stage sound.

As befits an opening night there were some rough patches and miscues -- a rough-hewn vocal here, a saxophone key sticking there, an inconsistent sound mix, lighting schemes that left the musicians in the dark -- but none dampened the night's overall sense of event. It was a triumphant, if overdue, return and an indication that Seger will not only face but live up to the standard his reputation promises as the tour goes on.

Here is Bob Seger's set list:

"Roll Me Away"
"Tryin' To Live My Life Without You"
"Wreck This Heart"
"Old Time Rock & Roll"
"Wait For Me"
"Face the Promise"
"No Matter Who You Are"
"Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight"
"We've Got Tonight"
"Turn the Page"
"Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser"
"C'est La Vie"
"The Answer's in the Question"
"Sunspot Baby"
"Horizontal Bop"

Encore 1:
"Night Moves"
"Hollywood Nights"

Encore 2:
"Against the Wind"
"Rock'n'Roll Never Forgets"

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