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Concert Reviews:
Bob Seger shows off new material at Toledo tour opener

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013

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TOLEDO -- Bob Seger has long told us, in song, that "Rock and Roll Never Forgets."

But on Wednesday night, Feb. 27, he gave an arena full of fans some new things to remember.

Opening his Rock and Roll Never Forgets Tour and playing his first show in more than 13 months at the Huntington Center, Seger and his Silver Bullet Band -- sounding tight and well-rehearsed throughout the 24-song, two-hour and 10-minute show -- freshened their tried-and-true repertoire with a selection of songs that, he promised, "will be on the new album, if I ever get it done." And he didn't take long to get into that new material, starting the concert with a cover of John Hiatt's rocking "Detroit Made" that he told the Ohio crowd was "a little local song about a little ways up the road, but I think you'll get it."

Seger, clad in all black (including his headband), also tossed in a melodic, midtempo original called "All the Roads" that he wrote in September and is "kinda about the career," as well as a genuinely surprising and stellar rendition of "California Stars," whose Woody Guthrie-written lyrics were turned into a song by Wilco and Billy Bragg for their 1998 album "Mermaid Avenue." "I heard this on the radio once and said, 'I have to record this,' " noted Seger, who added a rich arrangement by the Motor City Horns to his version.

Also spicing up the night was the return of "Like a Rock" to the set for the first time since Seger's 1996 tour, with new Silver Bullet member Rob McNelley nailing the slide guitar solo. Two video screens, meanwhile, marked Seger's first tour use of that technology, and to good effect; fans even got a close-up of saxophonist Alto Reed's trademark one-foot shuffle during "Old Time Rock and Roll." And Seger wisely dropped the odd eight-minute "intermission" he employed on his last tour, keeping the show cruising without losing any momentum.

Those changes were all for the better, and they were all done without sacrificing the cavalcade-of-hits approach that routinely make Seger's shows such a delight and was greeted with home town-style enthusiasm by the Toledo crowd. McNelley earned his Silver Bullet stripes with his perfectly executed breaks during "The Fire Down Below," "Her Strut" and the "Travelin' Man"/"Beautiful Loser" medley, as well as trading solos with Reed on "Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Sunspot Baby." Ike & Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" was as fiery as ever, while "Mainstreet" and "Turn the Page" were sturdy changes of pace.

The encores, meanwhile, remained the same as last time, but who can really argue with a lineup of "Against the Wind," "Hollywood Nights," "Night Moves" and a show-closing "Rock and Roll Never Forgets?"

"It's so much fun to be back here," Seger, who opened his last tour nearly two years ago to the day in Toledo, said at one point of the show. And there was no doubt the feeling was mutual.

Seger and the Silver Bullet Band continue the tour on Friday, March 1, back in Toledo and perform April 11 and 13 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tickets are $85 and $65 for both shows. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

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