May 5, 2011
Kansas City, MO USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Gary Gingrich
Bob Seger - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
After flying in from Dallas the weekend before, to take my mom to Jimmy Buffett, I was content to spend my remaining time in town hanging out at the Huff hacienda. I knew Bob Seger was going to be in town, so I dispatched a photographer to cover the show. I figured I'd get someone else to review the concert later.
As the rain fell throughout the afternoon, for some reason, I just couldn't get Seger off my mind. The words "down on main street" kept replaying themselves over and over in my head. Out of the blue, a fraternity brother living in Kansas City called me at the folk's house and had a question. Would I go to Seger with him at the Sprint Center? His wife wasn't feeling up to it. Who was I to tempt fate when out of the blue karma was calling?
Sitting to the side of the stage waiting for the show to begin, my frat brother asked me the last time I'd seen Seger in concert. To his astonishment, I told him 25 years ago when Don Henley joined him on stage during a three-night run in Dallas. That comment inspired others around us to join in the conversation about their own Bob Seger experiences. Every one had a tale or two to tell from their younger days, and the fun that went with it. From the year, the city and the album he was touring behind, countless stories about Bob poured fourth in striking detail. As everyone laughed about their bygone tales of concert misdeeds, it dawned on me how special Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet's music was, and the lives it still touched decades after its release. This show was going to be one helluva a trip down memory lane, and I couldn't wait for it to get started.
After a brief, yet entertaining set by opener, Frankie Ballard, the stage was finally set. Seger, looking every bit like a Silver Bullet himself with his white hair and thinning beard to match, launched into "Roll Me Away" that immediately got the crowd fired up. When the opening guitar chords to "Mainstreet" trickled through speaker system two songs later, well, the recurring words in my head finally had a soundtrack to back them up.
This show was interesting mainly for what it lacked - songs from the Detroit native's last four records - going back a quarter of a century, including the 1986 classic, Like a Rock. Outside of the Vince Gill penned "Real Mean Bottle" from his 2006 release, Face the Promise, the show was dominated by a series of Seger's albums released from 1975 to 1980. That group of four sold over 20 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Night Moves and Against the Wind dominated this set list. The two albums provided 11 of the 25 tunes the Silver Bullet Band performed, including the two encores. Beautiful Loser and Stranger in Town made up the rest. I wasn't complaining, mind you, nor was anyone else in the audience. I was more amazed at the simple fact that Seger had crafted, and strung together, so many brilliant albums in a row. And when you throw in 1976's Live With a Bullet, featuring the iconic "Turn the Page", it really dawns on you just how special Seger's music was during that magical five-year period of his life, and ours.
Literally, if a generation of folks ever grew up on one artist's music, it would have been the some 14,000 people attending this show at the Sprint Center. This is what real rock and roll is supposed to sound like and this crowd knew it. I'm sure some were going to complain there were no large screens projecting Bob's face on it, but seriously, it didn't matter. The people were there for the songs. There was no pomp and circumstance on this stage. It was nothing but pure, heartfelt rock and roll. The sing-a-long during "Turn the Page" was mesmerizing. When Seger sang "Ramblin' Gambling Man", that tune was as vibrant today as it was 42 years ago when Bob released it on his very first album.
Through vinyl, 8-tracks, long form CD boxes, jewel case CD's and now downloading, Bob Seger's music has remained as relevant today as ever. If anyone felt gypped by the show because they didn't hear "Like a Rock," shame on you. On this overcast evening, you witnessed a true rock legend pour his 66-year old heart out on stage, for almost two and a half hours. This show was indeed for the ages, and I might add, aimed at the right age as well. Thanks for the phone call 'bro. I owe you one.