Bob Seger some more new music for fans as he closed the Palace of Auburn Hills, a venerable arena in the suburbs of his home town of Detroit, on Saturday night (Sept. 24).
Introducing his new cover of Lou Reed‘s “Busload of Faith,” Seger revealed that his upcoming album, I Knew You When (out Nov. 17), will be dedicated to late Eagles member Glenn Frey, who died in January 2016. While making the album, Seger also “thought about other people” in music who have passed away recently, including Reed. His cover of Reed’s song was released on Friday.
I Knew You When is Seger’s first album since 2014’s Ride Out. “Busload of Faith,” meanwhile, originally appeared on Reed’s critically lauded 1989 album, New York. Seger has tweaked some of Reed’s original lyrics, substituting “You can’t depend on the president” into the verse Reed wrote as, “You can’t depend on the churches/ Unless there’s real estate that you want to buy/ Can’t depend on a lot of things/You need a busload of faith to get by.”
The new song and Frey dedication took second seat, however, to fact that Seger and his Silver Bullet Band were playing the final concert ever at the 29-year-old venue. The building is expected to be torn down after the property is sold, with the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise moving to the newly opened Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. There are no words yet on prospective buyers or their plans, however.
The Palace opened with a Sting concert on Aug. 13, 1989, built by Pistons owner Bill Davidson and his associates, who privately funded the $90 million building costs. It’s currently owned by Los Angeles-based businessman Tom Gores. The arena was considered a trend-setter when it opened, with many of its features copied by subsequent buildings. It’s also stayed up to date, with $141.5 million in renovations since 1977. The Palace hosted three NBA championships by the Pistons, three WNBA championships by the Detroit Schock and an International Hockey League crown by the Detroit Vipers.
Seger — a longtime Pistons season ticket-holder with center-court lower bowl seats and holds a Palace record for most sell-outs by an artist during the same tour (six in 1996) — was well aware of the occasion. He began Saturday’s concert with a rousing, “Alright Palace, one last time. Let’s go!” and, appropriately, before “Turn the Page” spoke about his personal highlights at the Palace, including a 1988 concert by Michael Jackson, seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan sit in with Eric Clapton about a month before the former’s death in an August 1990 helicopter crash, and lording the Pistons’ 1989 championship over Jack Nicholson, a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan, when the actor was in town filming his starring role in Hoffa.
“What a great building this has been for 27 (sic) years, oh my goodness,” Seger told a crowd of 17,000 during his 17th appearance at the Palace. “So many great shows, I can’t remember all of them… The people we’ve seen. The shows we’ve seen… Thanks for everything, Palace. We love ya.”
Before an encore version of “Night Moves,” meanwhile, he again paid tribute to the building, saying, “It’s been a great 27 years. We’ve seen some shows, haven’t we? Thank you, Palace.” And after the encores the crowd stayed and watched a video of Palace sports and entertainment highlights, set to Seger’s “The Famous Final Scene,” with rapt attention while Seger himself headed out of the building.
Fans gathered early in the Palace parking lot, while past and current Palace employees reunited at a reception before the show and in a party suite in the Palace rafters during the show. The current Palace regime, meanwhile, saluted Seger with a large banner backstage reading, “Thank You Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Final Bullet At The Palace, September 21, 2017,” and with a “Final Bullet at the Palace cake at an afterparty. A bammer commemorating Seger’s 17th sellout at the venue hung above the stage all night.
Saturday’s show was filmed as well, but no plans for the footage have yet been announced.