Bob Seger – US Bank Arena – Cincinnati – April 5, 2011 (Concert Review) There was no smoke, no video screens, and no synthesizers; just a no-frills rock n’ roll show from Bob Seger. The singer, who will turn 66 in May, put together a 2 ½ hour show with a bulletproof setlist of hits and rockin’ albums cuts, mostly focusing on his four biggest albums: Live Bullet, Night Moves, Stranger in Town and Against the Wind. Augmenting Seger was the ever-present horn section, led by longtime bandmate Alto Reed as well as three female backup singers.
His core band featured longtime members Chris Campbell on bass and Craig Frost on keyboards, as well as Don Brewer of Grand Funk (another Michigan native) on drums. Because of his age and recent health issues, you might have expected a mellow show—absolutely not. Seger dug back for high-octane LP tracks like “Betty Lou’s Getting Out Tonight,” and “Horizontal Bop,” as well as a fun take on Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.” The only “new” songs he touched on were the early Seger chestnut “Gets Ya Pumpin’” (recently issued on Early Seger volume one), and his cover of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” which is the first single off an album expected out later in the fall. “Turn the Page” was a breathtaking highlight, featuring Reed’s signature sax, while “We’ve Got Tonight” had a gentle, aching quality not found on the record. He mentioned during the show that he was battling a sore throat and did sound a little more raspy than usual, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Seger ended the regular set with the spirited “Katmandu,” before launching into two encores, ending with the telling “Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets.” Judging by the deafening howl of the audience (I’ve NEVER heard a louder crowd), they haven’t forgotten either.
A new country duo, Steel Magnolia, opened the show. Giving further proof that the line between country and rock is almost non-existent, they opened with the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty classic “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” segued later into Rod Stewart & the Faces’ “Stay With Me,” and ended off with Johnny & June Carter Cash’s “Jackson.”