Tuesday, October 22, 2019

With Autumn Closing In: As He (Finally) Turns the Page, Bob Seger Ensures Rock and Roll Never Forgets -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band
w/ opening act Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos
United Center, Chicago 
October 19, 2019

Until late 2006, Bob Seger stood as one of my favorite living rock artists never seen live in concert.

Since then, I have seen Seger—who is now 74 years old—and his Silver Bullet Band seven times in seven different years, including Saturday night at the United Center.

It was the fifth to last show of his Roll Me Away Final Tour, which began in Fall 2017 but had many gigs postponed for over a year due to Bob having a back injury. I caught a rescheduled show last December at Allstate Arena but couldn’t resist one last chance. (The tour concludes November 1st in Philadelphia.)

Even back in 2006, Seger’s hair and beard were fully white and he was a bit paunchy. His voice wasn’t as robust as in his heyday, and he wasn’t the same kinetic stage presence (per old clips). He didn’t delve as deep into his catalog as I would’ve preferred, nor mix things up much tour-to-tour let alone night-to-night.

But his songs remained great and the Silver Bullet Band—with some old members and some new—were superb.

He was a remarkably earnest and amiable presence and his voice was good enough to make for enjoyable shows.

Thirteen years later, that’s pretty much still the same, with Seger just as good on Saturday as throughout his entire latter-day touring resurgence.

Maybe even better, though if I’m really giving this show an extra ½@ for lifetime achievement, so be it.

His opening number, “Simplicity” isn’t a favorite of mine, but I was happy Seger was open to venturing away from the obvious.

I would say the same for “No More,” a song I didn’t recognize (and can’t find where it’s from), but it was nice that he dedicated to the late congressman Elijah Cummings. 

It took the place of setlist staple “Her Strut,” a better song but one I  really didn't need to hear again.

The somewhat rare “Shame on the Moon” and “You’ll Accompany Me” were nice touches, his use of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to pay tribute to longtime pals Glenn Frey, Tom Petty and others was moving and while there are many other Seger songs devoted fans might wish to abet his encore choices, which have been the same since at least 2006—the guys behind me kept yelling for “Fire Lake”—no one could really blame him for dedicating “You Take Me In” to his wife before “Against the Wind,” “Hollywood Nights,” “Night Moves” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” closed out seemingly his last ever Chicago show. 

Seger has been playing the Windy City since at least 1968 (then with the Last Heard) and the core encore quartet and many of the other songs performed on Saturday—“The Fire Down Below,” “Mainstreet,” “Come to Poppa,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” “Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser,” “Turn the Page,” “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”—have been heard here often over the years.

But that’s why I, and the rest of the sold out audience, was there.

Backed by the ageless, eternally cool saxophonist, Alto Reed, original Silver Bullet bassist Chris Campbell, pianist Craig Frost and many other fine musicians and singers, I think it's safe to say that Bob Seger clearly pleased the crowd.

Not in any new way, but with me particularly glad to have "Still the Same" included in this tour--after being MIA for years--the old man singing "Old Time Rock and Rock" was more than enough to accompany me and my memories out the door and into the night, movingly.

As he wrote and recorded in 1972:

"Here I am on the road again / There I am up on the stage / Here I go playin' star again / There I go turn the page"

To which for this show, all the others and much music that I'll always love, I saith:

Thanks, Bob.

Enjoy the next chapter.


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